US Soccer has recently announced that its board of directors approved mandates concerning small-sided game guidelines and changing from the current “school year age” matrix (IE. Aug. 1 - July 31) to a “calendar year” age matrix (IE. Jan. 1 – Dec. 31).  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, which include US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer, AYSO, and SAY to name a few of the more familiar organizations.  New York State West Youth Soccer Association (NYSWYSA) is a US Youth Soccer state association and as such, falls under the umbrella of these US Soccer mandates.   

The US Youth Soccer board voted to implement the “calendar year” registration to begin in the 2016-2017 season (1 August 2016).  All state associations and their members are required to make the change.  The remaining US Soccer mandate regarding small sided games 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. 

This change means the 8/1 – 12/31 age players on teams move up and the 1/1 – 7/31 players will stay down.  The mandate does not mean players may not play up.  Playing up allows the clubs and leagues to make decisions in their local environments that are necessary for success.  The first administrative action should be to review all your rosters and identify the impact on your teams.  As noted, you can play players up, but you may not play players down. When speaking to parents, communicate that this is not a decision over which you have control, it was decided by US Soccer and it is the rule for all of youth soccer in the US.  Listen to the concerns of your people.  The reactions will run the gamut of initial negative responses, to asking questions to gain more insight, to accepting the inevitable changes on the horizon.  Your message should include that implementing change is a process and your club will be continually evaluating the process through this year and the next.  Do what you need to do to make it work for your people, your club, or your league in your local environment.  

US Soccer mandated the initiatives to further the development of the players in the US.  NYSWYSA has always worked to assist our members. We are looking forward to addressing your questions and providing assistance and guidance in helping you work towards a successful transition.  We invite you to first visit our “Related Links” section to gain more insight into the rationale behind the mandates and to view the FAQ link, which provides answers to commonly asked questions. 

We are here to assist you:

Questions regarding the move to “calendar year” age matrix should be directed to Tim Mellander, NYSWYSA Registrar,  

Questions regarding small sided games mandates should be directed to Dean Foti, NYSWYSA Technical Director,