General Info

-What are the changes coming?

  • US Soccer is initiating several changes to the Youth Soccer structure here in the states. One of largest changes involves the way we structure our age groups. Currently, age groups are based on the academic calendar.

(i.e. U11 age group consists of players born between August 1st 2004 and July 31st 2005, mainly 5thgraders)

This will change to a Birth year format.Age groups will consist of players born between January 1st and December 31st, of that year.

(i.e. U11 age group would consist of players born between January 1st 2005 and December 31st 2005, a combination of 4th and 5th graders)

  • A Small-Sided game mandate is being implemented for the upcoming Fall 2016/Spring 2017 seasons,but will not have an impact on Stafford Soccer aswe currently follow similar guidelines.

-When is this happening?

  • Implementation for our fall seasonal year (Fall 2016 and Spring 2017).
  • US Youth Soccer – which is the governing body for VYSA and governs such leagues as NCSL, WAGS, CCL and ODSL – chose to mandate these changes in full by Fall 2016

-Why is Stafford Soccer Implementing these changes?

  • It is important to know that these changes are NOT being created or made by Stafford Soccer
  • US soccer is the governing body above all soccer organizations in the United States.
  • Beneath VYSA are various leagues within the state such as NCSL, ODSL, WAGS and CCL.
  • Stafford Soccer is sanctioned by these governing bodies and has no choice but to adhere to all changes being implemented, such as the Birth Year structure.

-Why are these changes happening?

  • US Soccer has mentioned several different reasons for this change:
  • Simplify the classification of each group. Rather than having an age group that changes each year, players now belong to one single Birth Year.
  • Provide consistency across all the States as well as at the International level. (Most other nations organize their soccer with the same model).
  • Programs like Olympic Development Program (ODP), USSF Youth National teams already utilize the Birth Year Model.

-Why the delay on getting this information out?

  • US Soccer introduced this change last year and began to amass questions and information from both US Youth Soccer, state organizations and clubs across the United States on how this change would affect local levels. Information was categorized, investigated and finally answered. Both US Soccer and VYSA addressed additional issues as they came up. Until recently there has been no specific details on how to implement these changes.
  • With this lack of information, governing bodies within our state (like VYSA) are unable to pass information down to the club level. With no information from our State body we are unable to pass information out to our own club members.
  • Again, Stafford Soccer adheres to these governing bodies, and as information is provided to us we are then able to pass it along to our members.

Player and team information

-What will the new age groups be for the Fall 2016/Spring 2017 Seasons?

  • The new age groups will be as follows:

U9: 2008
U10: 2007
U11: 2006
U12: 2005
U13: 2004
U14: 2003
U15: 2002
U16: 2001
U17: 2000
U18: 1999
U19/U20: Aug 1, 1997-Dec 31, 1998

-How will this affect my child?

  • Most players within Stafford Soccer’s travel program will be affected by this in some way.
  • Currently, players born between the months of January and July are considered the youngest players in the age group and will move up one age group (e.g. Current u11 to u12).
  • Older players in each age group (Those born in the months of August – December) will be reclassified to a new age group (Current u11’s will become U13’s in the fall)
  • These changes will be less significant on the High School Level teams (U15-U18) as the club may choose to grandfather these teams and players on a case-by-case basis.
  • Some players may experience minimal change; some may experience team level change (ex: White to Blue team, or Blue team to white team).

-My child is born between August and December

  • Does this mean my child is moving up two age groups?!?
  • -No, we cannot compare the current age groups to the newly formed age groups. The definition of each Age group has essentially “changed”.
  • I.e. Your child is one of the older players in the U11 age group. Next year they will play with the “younger” players from the U12 age group. All the players are still playing within a one year period.
  • Doesn’t this mean my child is losing a year of soccer?
  • -No. Players born in these months will be considered U19 when they are in 12th grade. So players born in these months in 2004-2007 will lose a year of “small-sided” games but will gain a year of playing 11v11.

-My child wants to play his/her friends. Can’t we just keep our team together?

  • Utilizing the guidelines of what is in the best interest and development for our players, the answer is “no”
  • Keeping our existing rosters, ignoring the Birth Year Model and essentially having majority of the rosters “playing up” an age group would indeed help preserve the current relationships between players and families. However, this could also be harmful towards players’ development and also decrease the fun in the sport along with competitiveness
  • With the new age groups, players who “age up” could play against players significantly older (as much as 18 months). This is a large gap, especially at the younger age groups.
  • We understand the importance of friendships and the bonds made within teams. With the new age groups, players will form new bonds and new friendships within their teams.
  • Our goal at Stafford Soccer has always been to place your child on a team that is most appropriate for their development and competitive level. Regardless of the new Age Chart, this will continue to be the case as our state leagues, other clubs and tournaments follow this same model.

-Can my child play up or play down?

  • Age requests are typically granted when a player needs to be further challenged than what their current age level/team is able to provide. We look at these cases very carefully and only allow this move in appropriate cases (i.e. the player is completely dominating their competition in all aspects)
  • In order for a player to be considered for an age up, they must be able to perform well in the older age group on the Blue team of that age group

For example: If a player plays on the 2002 blue team, but wants to age up; they must be able to perform well with the 2001 blue team. Players wanting to play on the older “white” team will not be considered for age up.

  • Moving up an age group could have negative effects on a player’s development, which is why the technical staff evaluates each player on a case-by-case basis. A player who is a very talented dribbler and has great confidence going at players 1v1 may move up an age group and have to change their style of play entirely. Instead of being able to beat players 1v1, now they have to pass the ball consistently to compensate for their inability to beat players on the dribble. Players have different skillsets, moving players up an age group may not allow players to reach their full potential in a certain skillset and could potentially harm their development as a player.
  • We do not allow any age down requests, due to league rules, tournament rules and other events our teams participate throughout the year.

-Is Recreation and Revolution Academy following the same format?

  • No, these changes are being made at the travel level ONLY.
  • Travel must adhere to our top tier governing bodies (i.e., US Soccer, US youth soccer, VYSA, state leagues). We must comply with these changes in order to continue competition. All travel clubs Nationwide will have to adhere to these changes
  • Recreation and Academy are considered “In-house” programs. Meaning, they are run by our club and we can run these programs as we see best fit for the players.
  • Recreationor Academy teams who compete in outside club tournaments will have to follow the Birth Year rules similar to travel.

-Why not structure Recreation and Academy the same as travel.

  • The needs of Recreation and Academy players differ from those of a travel player. The social element of the game is significantly more important for our Rec and Academy programs which is why we plan to keep the current school year format.

Tryout Information

-How will tryouts be structured with the new changes?

  • With the new Birth Year model in effect, we are going to allow players to try out for their own age group AS WELL as one age group above (I.e. Player born in 2003 can be assessed for both the 2003 team as well as the 2002 team)
  • Again, for players to be considered in the older age group they must excel with the Blue team in the older age group.

-Who will the coaches be for each age group?

  • The club will announce official coaching assignments later this spring. Our technical staff looks at several factors when placing coaches with specific age groups; such as, development needs of players, coach’s strengths correlating to a specific age group, the availability of a coach, teams they’ve coached in previous years, etc.
  • During this change we are working to keep as much consistency amongst the coaching staff as possible

-My child is “jumping” two age groups, will there will be an available spot for them?

  • As all tryouts have been in the past, team formations will be based upon the quality and quantity of the players at the tryouts. Placement for current travel players in the club is likely but never fully guaranteed. Though current players do have an advantage as coaching staff has had the opportunity to watch them play on a regular basis.
  • As a club, we are confident that even with players essentially “jumping” two age groups, there will be available teams to play on. We have to remember as kids enter new age groups, other players are leaving that same age group,therefore, creating more available slots.

-How will uniform number conflicts be resolved?

  • If there is a conflict with numbers on a team involving returning players, the YOUNGERof the two players will have to change their number

Additional Information

  • If you wish to find more information regarding the changes happening in US soccer and in our youth system please follow things links
  • US Soccer -
  • US Youth Soccer -