Hi everybody -
I'm reaching out to you on behalf of Foxboro Soccer to give you an update on our program, and share all of the details that we know about the age group changes being passed down from the US Soccer Federation.
Our travel program is larger than it has been since we started doing online registrations in 2008. We had 400 travel players this past fall (#2 fall ever), and we have 320 players signed up for this coming season (#1 spring). For the current school year, there are 439 "unique" kids playing travel soccer, which works out to nearly 40% of all 3rd-8th graders in Foxboro. Despite our childrens' variety of interest in youth sports, we are very excited that our travel signups have increased by more than 12% in the last five years.
The USSF is the governing body of soccer in this country, and they oversee all competitive soccer leagues (whether it be National Teams, DAP, ODP, club soccer, or travel soccer). As many of you have probably heard by now, USSF is in the process of having all member organizations switch to birth-year age groups (for example, Jan 1, 2000 - Dec. 31, 2000). This would be different from the current age groupings, which are based roughly on school years (for example, Aug. 1, 2000 - July 31, 2001). Many club leagues are switching over for this coming fall, but USSF is allowing for a transition year before what is projected to be a full cut-over in the fall of 2017. The travel leagues that make up the state of MA (one of which is BAYS) came to an agreement on what to do during the Fall 2016-Spring 2017 school year (this does NOT affect the coming spring).
The result is below (Foxboro comments in blue):
"The Leagues Committee met Sunday, principally to discuss the recent USSF initiatives on player eligibility and playing formats. On those two issues, the Leagues Committee voted as follows:
1 & 2. Player eligibility (effective Fall 2016): (typical Foxboro playing levels in bold)
- Grade 3 (formerly U9) . A player must be in the 3rd grade or below AND born on or after 1/1/2007 to be eligible
- Grade 4 (formerly U10) . A player must be in the 4th grade or below AND born on or after 1/1/2006 to be eligible
- Grade 5 (formerly U11). A player must be in the 5th grade or below AND born on or after 1/1/2005 to be eligible
- Grade 6 (formerly U12) . A player must be in the 6th grade or below AND born on or after 1/1/2004 to be eligible
- Grades 7-8 (formerly U14). A player must be in the 7th or 8th grade or below AND born on or after 1/1/2002 to be eligible
- Grades 9-10 (formerly U16). A player must be in the 10th grade or below AND born on or after 1/1/2000 to be eligible
- Grades 11-12 (formerly U18). A player must be in the 12th grade or below AND born on or after 1/1/1998 to be eligible
The biggest component of this is that the cutoff for a player that would currently be "too old" moves out to January 1st instead of August 1st. This is a good change that should make all players eligible to play on any team within their age group, instead of facing limitations on which competitive level they can be a part of... all while keeping a school grade intact.
3. Second Grade players may play up if current league policy allows.
BAYS currently doesn't allow U8 players to play travel. Foxboro has never allowed 2nd graders to play travel (I use "never" loosely, but I know for sure that's been true for at least 10 years). It is extremely unlikely that BAYS will allow second-graders to play travel, and even if they do it is more unlikely that Foxboro Soccer will allow it.
4. The recommended playing format is 7v7 for Grades 3-4; 9v9 for Grades 5-6 and 11v11 for Grades 7-8 and older. We do not expect field or goal sizes to vary from those currently in use for U10 and U12.
Currently the format is 6v6 for Grades 3-4 and 8v8 for Grades 5-6. That now goes to 7v7 and 9v9, respectively... Grades 7-8 will remain unchanged at 11v11.
5. The new player eligibility rules will be implemented beginning Fall of 2016, no changes for spring 2016.
This is self-explanatory.
6. The Leagues Committee will implement the 9v9 playing format for the Grade 6 playing group starting with the June 2017 tournament.
This refers to the MTOC tournament going to 9v9 from 8v8 in June 2017. Not a big deal since 6th Grade will be playing 9v9 anyway.
There are nuances to these decisions that we'll discuss at future BAYS Board meetings, but the basics are outlined above."
BAYS is referring to simple details such as confirming the length of games, MTOC roster sizes, etc.
These changes will not trickle down to Foxboro's in-town program. For our K, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd-thru-5th, and 6th-thru-8th programs - everything will remain as is. These USSF changes will not affect anyone playing in one of the in-town leagues.
Even for travel, as you can see, there are not too many changes for the 2016-2017 school year. The age changes being made are actually more relaxed than the current age limits. There isn't going to be an impactful change to any of the age groups until the Fall of 2017, and even that is still uncertain.
The future is uncertain. I'll resist predicting whether or not the USSF is going to stick with applying the change to travel leagues going forward. We will obviously continue to monitor this topic, and keep you all informed if anything important comes up. We will continue to do everything with the best interests of the members of Foxboro Soccer in mind... but please understand that some things may be out of our control.
The goal of this communication is simple... We want everyone to know what's going on - it's best for everybody involved. If you hear something different from what's in this e-mail... it's not correct. This decision was made on Sunday night, this email contains all of the latest information.
PLEASE - if you have any questions, just ask us. My email address is below.
Thanks for your continued interest in Foxboro Soccer. We look forward to spending many more years with all of you.
President, Foxboro Soccer Association