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AGE REALIGNMENT TABLES WINTER AND SUMMER SEASON

A player’s age eligibility shall be calculated from January 1 of the year the competition finishes 

Age Realignment 

As and from the start of the 2010-11 season, in all under-age competitions under the jurisdiction of the Association and its affiliates, age eligibility shall be calculated from January 1 of the season in which the competition finishes.

This will bring Ireland into line with FIFA and UEFA and vast majority of football associations around the world who operate the age eligibility for their under-age competitions along the same lines.

It also means that all sectors of Irish football will have their under-age sections aligned.

At present, the age-eligibility for some under-age competitions is calculated from January 1 in the year the competition commences. With the majority of competitions, national and local, being played over the winter season it means that when the competition finishes most players are older than the age category they are playing in. For example, this season an U13 competition would be open to players born after January 1, 1997, but when the competition finishes next May or June a lot of players playing in this competition will be 14 years old. This creates the strange anomaly of having players aged 14 playing in an U13 competition.

Under the new rule change, players born after January 1, 1997, will be playing in an U14 competition. This will bring Ireland into line with UEFA thereby making it easier to implement development programmes as well as realigning domestic football with international football and eliminating the situation whereby our U15 and U16 international players are playing in U14 and U15 leagues respectively.

What’s going to happen?

Let’s take our U13 players again. This season (2010/11) they are playing in an U13 league and next season (2011/12) they will be playing in an U15 league because they will be 15 when their various league and cup competition finish in 2012. They will be playing against the same players as they are playing against this season as all players will be born in 1997 or later and the only change is in the title of the age category.

What about the U9s jumping to U11?

Some people have expressed concern that U9 players are going to find themselves moving to U11 next season and finding themselves jumping from seven-a-side to 11-a-side. Again, it must be stressed that these players will still be playing against their peers as all players will be born 2001 or later. The new U11 league is the old U10 league so if leagues feel it is too much of a jump they can decide to start 11-a-side football at U12 which is the present U11 category.

What about leagues who don’t facilitate every age group

Because of playing numbers some leagues have two year gaps between their age divisions (U10, U12, U14, U16) or (U11, U13, U15) and there is a concern that players born in 2001 (current U9s) will find themselves playing U12 football next season as there would be no U11 league. The only difference here is that players born in 2001 will find themselves playing against the players born in 2000 a year earlier because had the present age eligibility rules remained the players from 2001 and 2000 would have been playing against each other in the 2012-13 season.

What about U15s jumping to U17?

Schoolboy football is from U16 down and the realignment of age eligibility means that this season’s U15s will be categorised as U17s from the 2011-12 season and finished with schoolboy football. Some schoolboy leagues also run youth leagues with U17 and U18 divisions so they can remain within their existing league structure.  In some areas the schoolboy league goes to U16 level and the local junior league organises youth football so there is still an opportunity for the team to remain together by moving to their U17 league. Youth Leagues that have no U17 league at present and no connection to schoolboy football will be encouraged to engage with their local schoolboys leagues to see if there is demand from the present U15 teams for an U17 league next season.

What about U17s missing out on U18 football?

This season’s U17s will be categorised next season as U19s and there is nothing to stop a league from adding an U19 league to their competition if they feel there is a demand for it. The League of Ireland will be dropping their under-age league from U20 to U19.

The U17s will now miss out on the FAI Youth Cup?

The FAI runs four national youth competitions. The U17 Cup, the Inter-Provincial U17 Tournament, the Youth Cup and the Inter-League Youth Cup. The latter two are U18 competitions. All youth competitions are run by the FAI Youth Committee and they will consider any proposal for the creation of extra competitions such as an FAI U19 Cup.

Why was it necessary to bring in a Rule?

Because it is important that all sections of the game move at the same time. If schoolboy football was to change and youth football didn’t we would have the situation where this year’s U15s would be too old for schoolboy football next year and find themselves playing U17 football with players who are a year older than they are. Similarly if youth football moved and schoolboy football didn’t players born in 1995 would be asked to play U16 and U17 football next season as there would be no natural progression to U17 level.

Age Realignment Table

As and from the 2011-12 season, in all under-age competitions under the jurisdiction of the Association and its affiliates, a player’s age eligibility shall be calculated from January 1 of the year the competition finishes.