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Travel Program

TO: HYS Travel Members
FROM: Sally Burns, Director of Travel Programs
DATE: September 15, 2015
SUBJECT:  Age Group Changes in Youth Soccer for 2016

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 VYSA, to name the more familiar organizations.  Herndon Youth Soccer is a member of the Virginia Youth Soccer Association, which is part of US Soccer and the US Youth Soccer state association.  HYS did not follow with a press release on August 24th or following the August 29-30th USYS board meetings to all of our parents due to some ambiguity in the US Youth Soccer press release concerning the adoption of the calendar year mandate in 2016-2017. 

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 Annual Meeting 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.

Nearly 25 years ago, the country went from calendar year to 8/1-7-31.  Many of us were not an active part of youth soccer at that time.  One key fact is that 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. The club 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.  HYS is going to put the needs of the players first and each individual situation will be evaluated for all within the framework.  The age group that teams will be associated with will be the older year age group and remaining players on the team will play up.  Yet, until both NCSL and WAGS confirm rule changes and ratify them, the play up portion may be redefined with specific rules for each age group.  Players may play up, but we cannot play players down.  Players are playing up now on teams because is the right choice for the player’s development and other reasons. Implementing change is a process and the club will be continually evaluating the process through this year and the next.

Come Fall 2016, again the referee will blow the whistle and the games will begin with it all worked out.

Sally Burns
Director HYS Travel Programs