Effective August 2017, the grouping of players will also change nationwide, with encouraged adoption of best practices in August of 2016. U.S. Soccer will go back to calendar birth years to align with international standards and Youth National Team programs.
US Youth Soccer will implement the best practice of calendar year age grouping for player registration beginning with the 2016-2017 soccer year forUS Youth Soccer programs and competitions.
Using the school calendar for age groups is practiced only in the United States and Canada; as all other FIFA members go by the calendar year.
Previously, age groups were determined based on players born between Aug. 1 and July 31. The change to calendar year age groups will reflect the calendar year, or Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Players are still allowed to “play up” or play in an older age group.
US Youth Soccer, a respected leader in player development for more than 40 years, has seen the evolution of the game and various changes. The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program has used the birth year for the grouping of players since it was established in 1977. In fact, the James P. McGuire Cup, the oldest trophy in youth sport, awarded at the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships also shows the history of teams named for their calendar year age group.
“Overall, the two things this accomplishes is it makes things easier and it gets us on the same calendar with the rest of the world,” Ramos said. “So now it becomes easier to identify for U.S. National Teams and everything else when it comes to international soccer.”
Click here for U.S. Soccer’s official statement on the changes. More details will be provided as available regarding specific implementation for these mandates from U.S. Soccer.