***Last Update October 1***
Many of you might have heard already that US Soccer has, in an effort to continue to develop soccer in this country and to best serve the needs of especially the younger players, mandated two major changes to be made to how youth soccer is ran in this country. These changes will have a big effect on the current landscape of youth soccer across the country. The changes coming up will also apply to the Westfield Soccer Association since we are, just like any other soccer club in the US, affiliated with US Youth Soccer. They will affect every organization as much as it does ours.
For those unaware, below a very brief explanation of the two changes coming up.
- US Soccer recognizes that, to best serve the needs of the youth soccer players, ages U6-U12, that it is important to mandate small sided games for the players in these age groups. Up till now, no set standard has been mandated. In some states, for example, players at U9 play 6v6 and in New Jersey all U9’s at the travel level, play 8v8. US Soccer is pushing for one standard across the country, to offer all players equal opportunities to develop. The new set up will also provide players with the opportunity to take small steps in their development, rather than being forced to play on a big field to soon.
- Through U8 US Soccer wants all players to play 4v4 without goalkeepers.
- At U9 and U10 all teams will be playing 7v7 (6 field players and a goalkeeper)
- U11 and U12 will be 9v9 (8 and a goalkeeper)
- All teams U13 and up will continue to play 11v11.
- The current age group definitions as outlined by US and NJ Youth Soccer will change moving forward. Up till this season players were placed on travel teams using a cut off starting August 1st, through July 31st.
US Soccer is making a change to align its youth soccer teams with all countries around the world moving forward. This means that they want to start dividing players over teams given their year of birth. We as a program have to move along with this as this will be mandated and affect all programs affiliated with US and NJ Youth Soccer.
At this point we have to work out as a club what needs to be done to be able to move forward. Just keep in mind that the changes to 7v7 and 9v9 can only take place if we have the infrastructure in place to accommodate games to be played on fields suitable for 7v7 and 9v9. We also will have to invest in new equipment since the current goals used for 8v8 games are bigger than the ones used for 7v7, but smaller than the ones needed for 9v9 games.
We are also in the process of reaching out to all the different leagues we are affiliated with to ensure they are all moving ahead and that they can accommodate us (and other clubs). This, as you hopefully can imagine, takes a bit of time.
US Soccer has mandated that all changes will have to be made by the Fall of 2017. They do encourage all organizations affiliated with US Youth Soccer to make the changes for the Fall of 2016. We understand that many parents will have questions about the changes being made. We therefor will put in place a taskforce to work out how we will adept to these changes with the association. We will continue to share with all of you through newsletter, website and email how we will move forward. It will seem very likely that we will also organize meetings for those with questions in the next few months.
I would recommend you all watch the official announcement from US Soccer made public back in August.
This article might not have provided you with all the answers you were looking for. As you can all tell, there are many things we as a club have to think about, in order for us to be prepared for the upcoming changes. We do not have all the answers yet, but we will work hard to provide you with answers as soon as possible.
Director of Coaching – Westfield Soccer Associations