Player Policy regarding age


As the Chair of St Mirren Youth Football Club, I’m having to spell out the Club’s policy regarding players playing above their age group. As Coaches we have a Duty of Care to look after your young footballers responsibly in a safe environment.

It’s taken me two years to get our SoccerSchool players into games – this after we had to invite a group of Coaches to leave. This group of coaches were responsible for looking after players born between 2005 and 2008.

Instead of running four squads for each of these age groups, they were running three teams at 2005. They were discarding the younger players left, right and centre in favour of selecting only the ‘best’ players. As a result, we’ve had no teams below 2004 playing – until now! As I said I have been building this up for the last two years, whilst also coaching the 2004s.

So I’m spelling out the Club’s Policy regarding playing younger players:

St Mirren Youth Football Club do not approve Players playing two or more age groups above the Players actual age.

The Paisley Johnstone & District Youth Football League do not authorise Players playing two or more age groups above the Players actual age.

The Scottish Youth Football Association do not authorise the Registration of Players playing two or more age groups above the Players actual age.

The Scottish Football Association Live National Registration Administration System blocks the Registration of Players playing two or more age groups above the Players actual age.

Clubs playing a Player two or more age groups above the Players actual age, will find that their Membership, Registration and Public Liability Insurance are null and void.

In other words, any injury or medical claims against Club Insurance Policies, would be deemed null and void if a Player was injured playing two or more age groups above the Players actual age.

Any Coach playing a Player two or more age groups above the Players actual age, will be deemed to be in breach of their Duty of Care Responsibilities and could face Cautionary Suspension under the Clubs Player Protection Policies and Procedures.

The Club can register Players born in their designated age group and one age group below the Players actual age.

• For example a 2004 registered Club can register and play 2004 and 2005 born Players, but cannot register or play 2006, 2007 or more age groups below.

Coaches need to be mindful of this.

Parents are reminded that we are trying to develop young footballers at a level, pace, place and style that suits them. Please visit this link on our web site, to give you an idea of our ideal player

And to help you understand our player development viewpoint – the Club do not have any players like this as yet.

NOTE: In exceptional circumstances consideration will be given to applications from young players with physical, sensory or learning disabilities to participate out with their own age group. (Usually below the year they were born)

The procedure is as follows:
1. The player assisted by his/her parent/guardian seeks membership of an SYFA member club.
2. The parent or guardian, with support from the club should then apply to the Chief Executive for a dispensation for the player to participate at a younger age group.
This application must be supported with a letter from a relevant professional confirming clear and concise medical details of the player’s disability and why they cannot play at their own age group e.g. physiotherapist, school teacher, doctor etc.
3. The player’s parent, his/her club, the league/association and region will receive the decision of the Chief Executive in writing.
The Chief Executive’s decision will be final and binding on all parties.
4. If permission is granted, the club should then register the player. The registration form to be accompanied with a copy of the SYFA permission letter.
5. If the player moves to another league or association a copy of the SYFA permission letter must be sent to the league or association and regional secretary.
A current medical letter MUST be included with the application form giving a clear and concise medical reason why the player is unable to compete at his/her own age level. (The certificate must be less than 1 month old). Asthma is not considered to be a disability.

This Policy was originally issued by myself (Stephen Mann) and Frank Sweeney,
Club Secretary in August 2015.

In the last week, I have checked this Policy with the Scottish Youth Football Association’s Operations Manager, Registrations Officer and National Protection Officer, as well as the Paisley Johnstone & District Youth Football League Match Secretary. It is consistent with their policy.

I allowed some of our 2008 and 2009 players game time with the 2006s because they were short of players and the squad would otherwise have had no game time at all.

That will not happen again, as this has gotten in the way of some 2007s players getting any game time. And has prevented me playing two 2008s squads. And I want as many players getting game time as possible.

So let me be clear – Players born in 2006 and 2007 will play in the 2006s Squad only. Players born in 2008 and 2009 will play in the 2008s Teams only.

St Mirren Youth Football Club are not a ‘win at all costs’ Club – we want our players to develop skills that will help them in life, learning and work – like decision making, problem solving, space management, teamwork and work ethic. All used in football and needed elsewhere in life.

It’s not all about winning, it’s about learning from defeat or adversity, building resilience and coping with difficult situations.

I hope this helps!

Anyone, who wants further clarification can see me after a training session or arrange a time when it is convenient for discussion.

Stephen Mann