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Great Falls Soccer Club

News Detail


Jan, 2016

GFSC Announcement Regarding New Age Group Mandate

Dear Great Falls Soccer Families (Travel and Recreational/SFL),


I am very aware of the many questions that exist regarding the new age group realignment mandate put forth by the U.S. Soccer Federation. For those of you who are not familiar with the new birth year mandate, following is a brief summary:

In an effort to ensure the proper development of youth soccer in the United States and to align with the rest of the world, the U.S. Soccer Federation, the official governing body of soccer in the United States, issued a birth year mandate last summer to change the official registration period of soccer players from the school year – August to July – to the calendar year – January to December – as of the fall 2016 season. One of the biggest reasons for this change was the challenge of identifying talent when players are grouped outside their birth year, and variables such as differences in physical and mental development and maturity level need to be taken into account.   A good example would be player “A” born in August 1st of 2001 playing in the same group as a player “B”, born July 31st of 2002. Taking away the fact that there are exceptions and outliers, the question then becomes, can you identify true talent and potential and properly evaluate those two players knowing that perhaps the reason player A is better or has more potential is due to the fact that he was born the year before. Last but not least, at the U11 and U12 age groups for both Recreational and Travel soccer, instead of the usual 8 v. 8 players on the field in a game, the mandate is to now play 9 v. 9, which will mean every club and park authority will have to make some adjustments to field and goal sizes. There is a meeting with the Fairfax County Park Authority on Wednesday, January 27th when these issues will be discussed. While I have oversimplified the birth year mandate, the link below will give you more details:

Changes coming to youth soccer.  

As a Club, we have now completed our due diligence which included several meetings with the Board of Directors of GFSC, meetings with the various leagues in which we currently play, and finally a meeting with the U.S. Soccer Federation which took place last week at the annual National Soccer Convention held in Baltimore.  

Several area clubs have already made announcements to their families, but, as a Board, we felt it was best to wait a few more weeks to ensure that all the relevant information had been released and finalized, as some aspects of the new rules had changed or were rumored to be changing.  We really appreciate your patience in giving us the time necessary to work through everything internally before making an official announcement to the Club. 

I would like to ask that you not stress about this mandate because it’s my job to navigate the Club and its members through these changes with as little pain as possible!  Instead, please trust that I am working diligently together with the Board of Directors of GFSC and the coaching staff to make this transition as smooth as possible.  Please understand that, as in every other club around the U.S., it will take some adjustment.  I am confident that, together, we will implement the new rules in a way that enhances the development of your soccer players and makes our teams stronger.

Travel Teams and Players:

After analyzing the data on our current players, and taking into account the new teams that joined GFSC this winter as well as the teams and players who are committed to join the Club this summer, we feel fortunate to say that the age group mandate will affect us very positively as we will be able to field more teams per age group and to have teams in all age groups.

Recreational/SFL Teams and Players:

Once registration is complete for the spring season, we will be able to compile similar data. 


Please see attached for data on numbers of players and teams expected in each birth year.  Also, please consult the matrix from U.S. Youth Soccer which indicates age groups for each birth year.

As you look at the age groups, please keep in mind:

  1. The age group matrix affects both Recreational and Travel soccer because the mandate starts at U6.
  2. For both Travel and Recreational soccer, we need to ensure that each child will play in the correct birth year because, with the new mandate, any child playing up will essentially be playing up two birth years in most cases. You can imagine that a 10-year-old playing on a team of 12-year-olds who are physically larger and more developed is probably not a good idea for the safety, enjoyment or proper development of the younger child. Any decisions or exceptions made will never be final and will continue to be evaluated on a regular basis. 
  3. The number of players on many of our Travel teams is likely to increase because we have commitments from numerous teams from other clubs who want to join our Club.  We actually have a wait list for teams that want to join GFSC!  We had four teams join us this winter and we are expecting several others by the end of spring. On the Recreational side, we have a made a push in several area schools and have had many inquiries from teams and players about joining our club as well because they have heard about some of the initiatives we plan to implement.
  4. All the leagues we can participate in – House, SFL, WAGS, NCSL, ODSL, CCL, NPL, EDP – must follow the age group mandate and adopt any and all rules related to it.
  5. For Travel teams, we are planning several cross-club and inter-club scrimmages with teams based on the new age groups.  An announcement with planned dates will follow within a few weeks.  We are also exploring the same arrangements for the Recreational/SFL teams and are working with the Recreational directors to finalize planning.
  6. During the late spring, we will conduct age group tryouts for Travel teams, including any outside players interested in joining the Club, with the plan of having two teams for every age groups and certain age groups having three teams.

While I believe we still have a way to go to reach our full potential, I hope that I have given you enough reason to trust my plans and my vision as they relate to the future success of our soccer players as well as for their continued development and enjoyment within the Club.  

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me via e-mail or phone.


Rado Pletka
Technical Director

(703) 606-7128

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Great Falls Soccer Club

P.O. Box 836 
Great Falls, Virginia 22066

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Phone : 703-957-0006
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