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SYL makes birth year change for 2004 season
September 1, 2003

The following document has been assembled by Matt Weibe, Director of the Super Y-League for United Soccer Leagues on the transition of the birth year groups from August 1 to January 1 in 2004.
Report: Birth Year Change from August 1 to January 1

SYL makes birth year change in league for 2004 season

The following document has been assembled by Matt Weibe, Director of the Super Y-League for United Soccer Leagues on the transition of the birth year groups from August 1 to January 1 in 2004.

Over the last several months the change in the birth year from August 1 (8.1) to January 1 (1.1) for youth players in the United States has been a major topic. Our organization, United Soccer Leagues, has discussed this issue over the last five years with our national governing body and other youth organizations, for various reasons that are described below, and we are committed to changing our birth year to 1.1 for our league beginning in 2004.

Early 2003, United Soccer Leagues submitted a policy and bylaw to the United States Soccer Federation for a change in the birth year of youth players from August 1 to January 1, based off of the input from the Super Y-League’s Executive Committee and the clubs involved with the league.

Recently at the United States Soccer Federation Board of Directors meeting in August, there was major support in the policy and bylaw proposal for the birth year change. It is evident that there will some minor administrative adjustments for soccer in the U.S. on this transition process. US Youth Soccer viewed their concerns on these administrative adjustments at the AGM and asked if the proposals were moved until the November USSF BOD meeting to allow time for a task force to offer suggestions for this transition process and so they can discuss this with each of their state associations.

Although the decision by FIFA over a decade ago to have countries revert to 8.1 was based on scholastic calendar years, many countries reverted back to the 1.1 birth year because it was inconsistent with their National Team Programs.

Please note that even at the 8.1 birth year, there are still many players that play on youth teams with players that are not in their school year.

Some of the highlighted points of the change to 1.1 include:

1) Consistency with the U.S. National Team Programs and ODP system and a soccer calendar

The U.S. National Teams use a 1.1 age group for FIFA events and the ODP system to identify players. In order to use the most effective means for identifying players, the youth age groups should contain the same age criteria of the National Team Programs and the selection process (ODP).
The ongoing conflicts between club and ODP are a concern for many. Since the ODP system y is on a 1.1 birth year, ODP events divide a team in half for training sessions and events. This also relates to bettering the soccer calendar. With consistency between both the club and the ODP system, this will enable certain black out dates that clubs can adhere to if a majority of their players compete within an ODP program. This will greatly enhance the relationship between clubs and identification of players for U.S. National Team Programs.

2) Teams playing abroad

Currently, there is an uneven playing ground for teams that travel abroad to compete in friendlies or in tournaments. With the rest of the world on a 1.1 birth year, U.S. teams essentially have to play an age group higher to be eligible for the age criteria of the event. Currently, clubs have no true measure if they are to compete an age up or play teams that are younger in competition abroad.

3) Administration

Although, some people note that there might be some short term administrative adjustments, there are positives in the administrative adjustments that may ease many of the youth governing organizations.

Since the birth year is currently 8.1 teams must have try-outs in the summer months and re-new the clubs registration by August 1 to compete in events after August 1. While much of the U.S. is dormant to outdoor soccer in the winter months, and the Sunbelt states that have scholastic soccer in the winter months for the older age groups, the registration preparation in November and December should ease the registration process for many state associations and other youth organizations. Currently, a youth player has a lot of activity in summer months. With the 8.1 birth year a player must have try-outs and be accepting on a new team in the summer months, during the time when the youth soccer activities are the most active with leagues, cups and tournaments.

This would also help to better plan a soccer calendar. ODP and club conflicts could be reduced through this process.

4) The rest of the world has the 1.1 birth year

Some research has gone into the age group change into 1.1 . We contacted FIFA to aid us in providing us a breakdown of their member countries on what their birth year dates were. Although they did not have the breakdown list, the FA in England was able to provide us with insight on their research. Since the FA was on an 8.31 birth year, UEFA has indicated that they must switch to a 1.1 birth year to be consistent with all other UEFA countries, for competitive reasons.

Within CONCACAF, all other countries are on a 1.1 birth year. Our neighboring countries, Canada and Mexico, are included in this. As more and more youth teams compete in events within Mexico and Canada, it will be important that they have an equal playing ground for competitive reasons.

Q&A on the birth year change of the Super Y-League:

Q: Why is it important for the Super Y-League to be the leader in making this age change before the other youth organizations in the U.S.?

United Soccer Leagues has taken a leadership role with this because we and the 140 clubs that compete in the Super Y-League believe that this is important for soccer in the United States. The clubs in the league and the Executive Committee fully supports this decision. We decided to make this transition in 2004 because it is important to the leading clubs in the country, who participate in the SYL, and it would also be consistent with our ODP programs to help identify players for U.S. National Team Programs.

This is was not a political issue for us. The proposals were made because this was for the best interest of the game and for the clubs to offer more support in identification of players for our national team programs.

Q: What if a club/team does not want to change the birth year of their team from 8.1 for the league in 2004?

They do not have to change, if they do not want to. If a team decides to remain at the 8.1 birth year, then they will compete in the league in the birth year of their oldest player on the roster.