Many of you may have seen the August 24th announcements released by both US Soccer and US Youth Soccer concerning mandates for the small-sided game and changing the age groups from 8/1–7/31 to the calendar year passed by the US Soccer Board of Directors. US Soccer is the governing body for the sport of soccer in the United States. The mandates apply to national youth soccer organizations which are members of US Soccer, to include US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer and AYSO, to name the more familiar organizations. Virginia Rush is a member of the Virginia Youth Soccer Association, which is part of US Soccer and the US Youth Soccer state association. VA Rush did not follow with a press release on August 24th to all of our membership due to some ambiguity in the US Youth Soccer press release concerning the adoption of the calendar year mandate in 2016-2017. The USYS Board of Directors had a board meeting on August 29-30 in San Diego and we have waited to provide you with final information received today.
The US Youth Soccer board voted to implement the calendar year registration 2016-2017 year. All clubs and leagues in our area are required to make the change. The remaining US Soccer mandates will be enacted in 2017-2018. At the US Youth Soccer AGM in late July, a straw poll vote was taken for implementing the birth year registration in 2016-17 and the result was 91% in favor.
1991 was the year the country went from calendar year to 8/1-7-31. I was a new club president at the time and managed the change. Some situations were easy and others were not. At that time there were fewer individual options for handling the change because there were only 30,000 players in the state, but come fall the referee blew the whistle and the games began. We had it all worked out.
In its pure form, the change to birth year registrations means the 8/1–12/31 age players on teams move up and the 1/1 – 7/31 players stay down. This is not a decision over which we have control, it was decided by US Soccer and it is the rule for all of youth soccer in the United States. VA Rush is going to put the needs of the players first and each individual situation will be evaluated for all within the framework. Implementing change is a process and the club will be continually evaluating the process through this year and the next. Players may play up, but we cannot play players down. Players are played up now on teams because is the right choice for the player’s development and other reasons.
The recreation level teams are 2 year age groupings now and every fall the player pool changes in the age groups and players have new team mates every year.. The recreation level teams will experience the least amount of change due to the 2 year age groups.
Advanced and competitive level teams will be affected because the teams are single year age groups. All in Advanced have experienced changes in the teams when moving up from the recreation level to Advanced. We will evaluate individual situations for all putting the needs of the players within the framework first.
During this year some training sessions and event games will be organized utilizing the calendar year age groupings to provide the players and parents exposure to next year’s potential team mates. Come Fall 2016, again the referee will blow the whistle and the games will begin with it all worked out.