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Age Mandate Q&A

Dear DYSA Parents,

DYSA would like to review the changes to youth soccer announced by US Soccer Federation & US Youth Soccer Association. These changes are being mandated by the US Soccer Federation throughout the country and must go into effect beginning with the 2017-18 soccer year, with the recommendation that clubs and state associations implement the changes for the 2016-17 soccer year. This notice was relayed to clubs and players during the Fall season, but we have been waiting to receive direction from our governing body within the state of Colorado.

The Colorado Soccer Association (CSA) Board of Directors voted to implement all changes for the 2016-17 soccer year (next Fall). As a member of the CSA, we will be required to implement these changes in order to compete in the affiliated leagues and events.

The changes relate to two categories: small-sided game format and age group registrations.

1. For the last 8 years DYSA has utilized small-sided games for ages U12 and below in accordance with US Soccer best practices, the changes for small-sided games will be minimal and will simply see an additional player on the field for age groups U9-U12; for example U9/U10 will play in a 7v7 format (as opposed to the current 6v6 set up) and U11/12 will play in a 9v9 format (as opposed to the current 8v8 set up). 

2. The other change announced is that players will be grouped by birth year (i.e. January 1 – December 31 2002, 2003, etc.) instead of the current “school-year” (August 1 – July 31) classification. USSF has announced this change to align with the international age group structure, as currently only the US and Canada utilize the school-year groupings. All league competitions that DYSA participate in through CSA, and New Mexico Youth Soccer Association (NMYSA), will be implementing these changes for their league structures. Please see the age chart here. DYSA is moving forward with our education and implementation plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Question: Why is US Youth Soccer implementing this rule.  Answer: The current landscape is inconsistent and not as successful as it could be when it comes to player development. Through these initiatives, U.S. Soccer aims to develop players with more individual skill, intelligence, creativity and confidence. These changes also provide a consistent approach across the country while challenging the status quo of our soccer landscape by focusing on the development of the individual versus the success of a team.
  2. Question: What will the age groupings look like?  Answer: League Format – beginning Fall 2016, every-other-year age groups will be more of the norm.  This translates in to U10, U12, U14, U16 groupings.   This will generally enable teams to play against their age cohorts (i.e., Under 11 or Under 12) with the added flexibility of allowing, for example, a strong Under 11 team to play amongst Under 12.
  3. Question: Will my younger player have to play with older players within the age groupings?  For example, my 9 year old with a fall 2006 birthday having to play against 11 and 12 year olds.  Answer: Yes but… Players must play within their age group or play up.  We cannot have over-age players on a team.  The challenges we face being a small town in an isolated location is that our leagues often do not have multiple groupings within an age group based on previous seasons results.  Instead we struggle to have enough teams to form one division in an age group. DYSA Directors will do their best to ensure our teams are placed in as appropriate of a league and division as available. 
  4. Question: Will my 2015-2016 team be broken up? Answer: Yes, there will most likely be some changes.  DYSA does not split by ability until U12. Prior to this players with dramatically stronger or weaker skills are placed on a team that better promotes overall player development.  This is the best solution from a development perspective and will allow all players to develop at a more rapid pace.  We have the ability for players to play-up if their skills drastically out-match their teammates.  We anticipate many teams to have a similar make-up as to the current season.
  5.  Question: What happens with the 8 graders who are “overage’?  Do they have to play with highschoolers? Answer: For this coming year that means players born in 2002 but are in 8th grade – Initially CSA was going to allow these players may be included on U14 teams both fall and spring.   However, recently CSA changed their stance that teams with 2002 8th graders will have to be classified as U15 and play in the U15 division of leagues and tournaments. We fully understand that this could be an issue with U14 teams due to the new birth year change. We will not know which teams can play in a fall league and which teams cannot until we finalize rosters during the tryout process. The make-up of the team will determine the league path but we will work with all players that are affected by the decision to ensure they are training and playing within DYSA. Because of our small pool of players, DYSA has structured mixed age group teams in order to create opportunity for players to participate, along with attempting to avoid oversized rosters. To review, the age divisions in Four Corners League and the Mountain Region League will be U10, U12 and U14.  Within those those age groupings will be teams of different ages (U12s could be U11,  U11/12, or U12)  and (U14s could be U13, U13/14). 
  6. Question: What is “playing up” and are players able to “play down”? Answer: Players have the ability to “play up” with teammates at older age groups, based on birth year. Players are not permitted to “play down” with teammates at younger age groups, based on birth year. Decisions for playing up with teammates will be determined by skill level during tryouts/evaluations.
  7. Question: Are other clubs making the switch next season?  Answer: Yes, as far as we are aware all clubs in our area will be implementing the birth year change for the 2016-2017 season.
  8. Question: Does the change affect all team types and all age groups?  Answer: The change affects all team types and age groups. 
  9. Question: When is DYSA incorporating this change? Why?  Answer: DYSA will be implementing the change for the 2016-2017 season in accordance with U.S. Soccer’s Best Practice Recommendation. An important factor in this timing is that the leagues, tournaments and Cups in which our teams play are incorporating the change for the 2016-2017 season. Instituting the transition now will ensure our players compete at the appropriate level.
  10. Question: Are leagues and tournaments following the new age group requirements this year or waiting until the mandated 2017-2018 season?  Answer: Yes, leagues and tournaments are following the new birth year requirements for the 2016-2017 season.
  11. Question: It appears my child is being pushed up two age groups. Is that correct? Won’t he/she be at a disadvantage?  Answer: Although it looks like your son/daughter has “skipped” a soccer year, he/she will actually have an additional year at the end of the age group spectrum. The last age group currently is U18 but with the new changes, U19 will be the final age group most players will experience as high school seniors. Ultimately your child will play with players born in the same calendar year. Depending on the month they were born, the new mandate may initially benefit players (one of the older players on their new team) or challenge them (one of the youngest players). But both effects are short term as it will all even out physically and mentally as players get to the high school age groups.
  12. Question: My child won’t be with her current teammates any more. Can’t they all stay together?  Answer: There will be many instances where players will still be with some (or many) of their teammates, but that all depends on the birth years of the current players on that specific team. Ultimately the goal will be to form teams of similar levels of ability to play against other teams of similar ability as this approach maximizes both player development and the overall experience.
  13. Question: What can I do to prepare my child for these changes?  Answer: Explain to your player that their team will be made up of players born in the same year but not necessarily the same grade. Let your player know that many of their existing teammates share the same birth year, and that they are not alone in the change.
  14. Question: How do I know which age group corresponds with my child’s birth year?  Answer: Please reference the matrices below.

Season 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Birth Year Age Group Age Group Age Group Age Group
2014 U6
2013 U6 U7
2012 U6 U7 U8
2011 U6 U7 U8 U9
2010 U7 U8 U9 U10
2009 U8 U9 U10 U11
2008 U9 U10 U11 U12
2007 U10 U11 U12 U13
2006 U11 U12 U13 U14
2005 U12 U13 U14 U15
2004 U13 U14 U15 U16
2003 U14 U15 U16 U17
2002 U15 U16 U17 U18
2001 U16 U17 U18 U19
2000 U17 U18 U19
1999 U18 U19
1998 U19


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