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FAQ for New Rule Changes in 2016

Birth Year Changes for 2016

Q: Why did U.S. soccer change the birth-dates for youth soccer?
A: US Soccer changed to the birth year registration for two specific reasons:
  1. They wanted the age groups to become simpler and easier to understand. As it stands right now, the biggest question a new soccer parent has for the system is what age group is my child? With two birth years encompassing one age group in most cases, it was confusing as to what age group he or she would be a part of. With the new rules, if you were born in 2006 that's what age group you would be part of moving forward.
  2. As a result of the change, the U.S. now conforms to a consistent FIFA-mandated worldwide system of soccer registration. This system of standardized age categorizes will a) allow for more competitive levels of play; b) allow for the U.S. national scouting system to better identify players for our different national teams; and c) enable USSF and FIFA to understand the mix of players in the different programs (ages and level of competition) --- information to which the national and state organizations were previously blind (prior to the age change).

Q: The USSF Mandate states that these changes don't have to be completed until the 2017 year, so why is EYSA choosing to implement these now in 2016?
A: There are a couple reasons for making the change now. First, all of the leagues in which EYSA teams play have chosen to mandate the rule changes in 2016. Second, for our EYSA internal leagues we determined that waiting will not change anything and may actually even make things more confusing since we would have some EYSA age groups playing under one set of rules and some under another set of rules.

Q: Will players be skipping a year?
A: Some players will and some will not. Example - the 99 teams of this year, that are currently playing U16, will be playing U18 next year. No player can turn the age they are "under" in the calendar year. There will be some players in this year's 99 pool who were born in 2000. If they play for the 2000 team in 2016 they will be U17. If they "play up" for the 99 team it will be at U18.

Q: So are you saying that my son/daughter is "guaranteed" to be able to stay together with his/her teammates in spite of these age changes?
A: No, we have created the possibility of teams staying together but tryouts for Select and parent/kid choices for Rec and Select will still determine the teams.

Q: What about my kids' coach? Will he/she stay with the team next year?
A: We are in the process of polling all coaches (Rec and Select) to figure out which age group they plan to coach this coming year. Every EYSA club will have different ways (and timings) for how they make this information available to their families.

Q: Is EYSA the only association moving to the new standards in 2016?
A: No. Most of the clubs and associations in Washington state are choosing to move to the new standards in 2016.

Q: Now that the age change has been implemented why are you still referring to the age groups as UX (e.g. U12)? Shouldn't we just be referring to teams by their birth year now?
A: There are two reasons why you'll still see the U designation in use. First, the USSF continues to utilize the U designation. Second, in order to prevent leagues and tournaments from having to change their labels every year we are sticking to a UX labeling, however going forward the "U" will refer to the fact that at the start of the year (at time 0) everyone in that age group is "under" the given age of the group. The "U" designation will continue to identify the age at which a team is playing and what rules apply. Having said that, we will also now begin to be more aggressive in referring to individual teams by their birth year --- e.g. instead of the BU15 Rebels, the B'01 Rebels.

Q: The way that I'm reading the new rule re "Play Ups" to accommodate the USSF age changes, is that the 'unlimited' play-ups rule will only be in place for the 2016-2017 season, but then in the next season kids will have to switch and play age appropriate -- is that correct?

A: Yes and no. You're correct that the unlimited play-up rule was only put in place for the single season, however this was done only because 'we don't know what we don't know' wrt what sort of impact such a rule may have on the leagues, the association, the clubs and the teams. Once we get thru the 2016-2017 season we'll evaluate how the rule worked and decide how/if to extend it for future seasons. We can make every assurance that the rule of thumb (for the 2017-2018 season and beyond) will be to allow (as much as possible) the existing teams (for both rec and select) to stay together.
Q: Given the age changes, if we have a Select or Premier girls' team that will be classified GU15 for 2016-17, the girls are currently U13. The team is comprised mostly of girls who will be going in to 8th grade in the fall of 2016. As eighth graders, in past years, they would have played a fall season, however as GU15 players the girls would normally play a winter season. What will be the approach for this age group?
A: Select and Premier Program GU15 girls will play a winter season as currently done now (starting first week of December and continuing into March). EYSA will be looking to plan some development opportunities for the 8th grade girls while their age group matched older players will be playing high school ball in the fall.

Q: I have a son who was born in Jan - Jun 2001 timeframe, and who played U14 this past season. When tryouts come around this spring for Select and Premier, they will have U16 tryouts in late Feb/March for their current team (if they choose to play up). However, they would also have the option to play 'age appropriate' and play with their now U15 team again this fall. If they take this route then their tryouts for Select won't be until late April/May. So, will my son be allowed to try out for both age groups?

A: Yes, your son can choose to first tryout for U16 and if he's offered a spot, he can accept it and play on that team. If he accepts a spot on the team, then he will no longer be eligible to try out for U15. If however, he either is not offered a spot OR is offered a spot and chooses not to accept it, then he may move forward and tryout again in late spring with the U15 team.

Q: If my son/daughter chooses to "play-up" will it be "safe" for them with the older kids?
A: This is a determination that every family will need to make. In general, the answer from EYSA is that we would not be making these changes if it wasn't generally safe. Having said that, there is always a chance that a child who is young in stature/size for his/her age may end up facing off in a game against another kid who is older and larger. This size/age discrepancy doesn't inherently make the game unsafe.

Q: How should a family decide which team/age group is best for them?
A: There are no plans to dismantle teams, but it's realistic to think that there are players for whom the best scenario might involve moving down to the "younger" team as opposed to staying on their grade-level team and playing up. If a player is young and low on the depth chart, he/she may be better off playing with his calendar year peers, presumably getting more playing time and not playing with kids who could be 12+months older than him/her.

Q: Can you give me an example of how these changes might work for a team?
A: Example: 2015 Fall Season Rec U11 Team, with a roster composition of 14 players.
  • 4 players born in 2004 (months 8-12)
  • 10 players born in 2005 (months 1-7)
There are a couple different 2016 Scenarios:

1. Team remains intact with all current players (plus additions)
  • Team would be placed in U13 Division ( based on 2004 birthdate of oldest player
  • Play is 11-a-side, 35 minute halves (in District 2 league)
  • Team would have option to guide division placement based on age mix on team (Team is majority play-up age mix.)
2. Team splits up based on birth year
  • 2004 birthdate players would be placed on U13 teams, and play 11-a-side, 35 minute halves, playing in District 2 league;
  • 2005 birthdate players would be placed on U12 teams, 9-a-side, 30 minute halves (same as they played in 2015) playing in EYSA league
Select Tryouts

Q: Can my child try out for his/her birth year team as well as the team he/she played on last year?
A: Yes. Players may try out for more than a single age group, but must register for each age group. In the event a player is selected for more than one age group, the players may evaluate the opportunities, and will be given a timeframe to decide which offer to accept. The coaches will be in communication with each other, and the player/family, to give guidance on the best developmental situation for the player.

Q: Do you expect many teams to change?
A: Yes, but because it is a choice for each player and family to make, it is not clear how until tryouts happen. We do expect more change in the younger teams than in the older teams. The thought is many players near the end of their youth soccer, who have been with established teams for a number of seasons, will want to finish out with their teams (they still need to be selected for the team at tryouts). Players on younger teams, where the size and maturity effects of the change will be more pronounced, will be encouraged to play at age unless it is clear they are capable of competing with players that could be up to 19 months older than them.

Small-side Changes

Q: What will happen when EYSA teams play against other clubs/associations who have not yet implemented these changes?
A: EYSA teams play in 3 different leagues. For the younger Rec teams, this is an all-EYSA league so ALL teams will have implemented. For the older Rec teams and the Select teams, their leagues 'may' have clubs who have not yet implemented the changes, however the teams will still be required to enter teams into brackets based on the ages of their older players which do comply with the age changes. Net: even the teams who haven't implemented will still have approximately the same age range of kids on their teams.

Q: Are there any new USSF changes which EYSA is NOT going to implement and if so why?
A: Yes, there are a few:
  • Change U9 to 7v7 -- Not implementing due to field size issues.EYSA will continue with our current U9 practices which include a 5v5 format and no enforcement of the offside law. The smaller sided game along with the smaller roster we feel meets the developmental goals of the association as well as USSF. This also allow a step wise progression from U8 (4v4) to U9 (5v5) to U10 (7v7).
  • Build-Out Lines -- Will continue to use our "No Poaching Rule" and use the mid field line as the marker. Agreed that we will expand this rule for 2016 to the U10s as well since it is well accepted and is promoting better play out of the back.