The PSPL is offering the opportunity for its membership to change now to Birth Year in order to better align with USSF Federation and foreign player-development models as well as to be in front of the inevitable changes.
At this time, players’ ages are determined by Aug. 1 birthdates. Beginning with upcoming tryouts, male players’ ages will be determined by their birthdates of Jan. 1 of the same year. All PSPL clubs will face the same situation, creating an equal playing scenario within our league.
Teams are not compelled to change anything. However, it likely could put those teams at a competitive disadvantage, in some cases, because many players would then be asked to play against older opponents.
PSPL Technical Director Eddie Henderson has put together a FAQ that explains and anticipates your questions in more detail. This affects all boys age groups beginning Fall Season 2015.
Birth year means a player will play in the age group of the year of their birth. The Birth Year calendar dates run from January 1st to December 31st. For example, if you are born between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 1999, you will play in the 1999 Birth-Year age group. If you are born between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 2002, you will play in 2002.
Why is the PSPL moving to Birth Year?
The league is moving to Birth Year because the US Soccer Federation -- the governing body for all youth soccer in America -- is going to mandate Birth Year for all Leagues sanctioned under the US Soccer Federation. The PSPL is a Sanctioned League under the US Soccer Federation and US Club Soccer.
Why don’t we wait until the US Soccer Federation mandates Birth Year?
For the same reason that if you are preparing for a flood to come, you don’t wait to sandbag your homes the day the flood starts. We do it before the flood starts so we are prepared and can avoid more problems. The same anxiety teams, coaches, parents and players are feeling now will be far greater if we wait until the last minute. It will be better for everyone if we get out ahead of it and do it now so people can get used to the change and prepare.
Why can’t we phase in the Birth Year change? Why does the change have to be all at once?
Phasing in the Birth Year was an option and was partly done in the fall; however, as a league we felt it was important to make the change as quickly as possible as this would cause less confusion going forward and create uniformity across all of the age groups.
Why is the US Soccer Federation going to Birth Year?
The US Soccer Federation is going to Birth Year to align youth soccer with the rest of the world. Every country in the world plays Birth Year and all international youth soccer competitions are Birth Year, including all Youth National Team competitions and Youth World Cup competitions. The US Soccer Federation recognizes that the change will help our players develop faster. They hope it will benefit in the short term by producing better players and in the longer term by producing players who can compete on the world stage and win a World Cup.
Are there any benefits to playing Birth Year?
The main benefit for playing Birth Year is for developmental purposes. Playing Birth Year will allow your strongest players to play against older players which is always the best way to develop. Great players like Mia Hamm and Landon Donavan played up most of their youth careers.
How will playing Birth Year benefit our players at the local level?
On the local level, it will allow for better development because it will push individual players, raise the competitive standards, improve team competition and create more meaningful league games.
Are there any disadvantages to playing Birth Year?
There are no disadvantages to playing Birth Year. It will eliminate the ability for older players to play down with younger players as existed under the Calendar Year system. If you believe older players playing against younger players is an advantage, then one could assume closing this loophole is a disadvantage. In the opinion of the League Technical Director, playing an older player against younger players is an unfair advantage if the younger players aren't ready, and it is not good for the development of that older player.
What is Calendar School Year (School Year August 1st-July 31st)?
Calendar Year is the current soccer calendar that is based on a School year calendar that most leagues in the United States use to form teams. The “Calendar Year” runs from August 1st to July 31st, and it allows older players to play down with younger players. For example, under calendar year, if you are born between August 1st and December 31st of 1999 you can play down in the same age group with any younger players born from January 1st to July 31st of 2000.
Doesn’t that make Calendar Year the same as Birth Year?
No. With Birth Year a player can never go down and play with younger players. For example, if you are born in 1999 you CANNOT play down and play with the 2000 Birth Year team. If you are born in 1999, you play with the 1999 Birth Year Group.
Can players play up in an older age group?
Yes, there are NO restrictions on players playing up an age group. For example a player born in 2000 can go up and play in the 1999 Birth Year Age Group.
Can players play down on a younger age group?
No, players CANNOT play down with younger players. For example, a player born in 1999 CANNOT go down and play with the 2000 Birth Year Age Group.
I have a combined team of players born in different birth years. What age group will they be?
Your team will play the Birth Year Age Group of the oldest player on your team. For example, if your team has players born in 2001 and 2002, your team will play in the 2001 Birth Year Age Group.
When my team goes to tournaments what age group will they play in?
If the tournament is a “Birth Year” tournament, you will play in the Birth Year Age Group your team plays currently. For example, if you play in the 1999 Birth Year Age Group in league, then you will play 1999 Birth Year Age Group in the tournament. If the tournament is “Calendar Year”, then you will play in the age group designated by the tournament based on the age of your oldest player. Be sure to check the tournament rules and regulations to make sure you register for the correct age group.
Can I just keep my team the same for the 2015-2016 coming season?
Yes. Just realize that your team will play in the “Birth Year” Age Group of your oldest player and can potentially have players playing up against players who are potentially 19 months older than your youngest player. This could present a challenge for your team and a developmental challenge for the younger players on your team.
Tryouts are coming up for the High School age groups. What does the league recommend for combined teams?
Teams with combined birth years really have 3 choices:
- Build your team around the age group of your strongest players in the team. For example, if you have a combined team of players born in 1999 and 2000 and your strongest players developmentally are the players born in 1999, then build your team around those players born in 1999. Move the 2000 players to the 2000 group. Or, if your strongest players are born in 2000, build your team around those players born in 2000 and move the players born in 1999 to the 1999 group.
- Move the players with the same Birth Year to the appropriate Birth Year Age Group. For example if your team has 12 players born in 1999 and 5 players born in 2000, then you could move the 2000 players to the 2000 Birth Year Age Group. Then, build a team around the 1999 Birth Year Age Group. Or if your team had 12 players born in 2000 and 5 players born in 1999, you could move the players born in 1999 into the 1999 Birth Year Age Group and build your team around the 2000 Birth Year Age Group.
- You do nothing and keep your team together and play in the Birth Year of your oldest player on the team, realizing that your youngest player could potentially be playing against players who are as much as 19 months older.
When the FAQ mentioned tryouts the league said one of the options was to do nothing and stay together. Is this no longer an option?
No, it is still an option. You may keep your team together. But just realize that your team will now be playing up and this could be a challenge for some of your younger players developmentally.
Closing Remarks, Comments and Suggestions:
Going into next year there will be some anxiety as we go through this process. We understand that you want to keep your teams and players together, but we advise that you do what is right DEVELOPMENTALLY for the team and for the players. Playing solely to win games and keeping teams together for social reasons does not push players to the next level, but we understand both are important realities of playing team sports.
Winning certainly becomes part of development at the older ages. Keeping teams together for social reasons is purely a club decision.It is not the intention here to diminish the importance of the social aspect but merely to point out it plays virtually no role developing players to the next level. Some players may get displaced. While that is difficult emotionally, it is ok as long as the player finds the proper fit and ends up in a better place developmentally. That scenario may not play out for every player initially, but if decisions you make now are based on development, then in the end, every player should find an appropriate place.
If you have any questions, please email: Eddie Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org,.