The following framework sets out the Independent Schools Football Association (ISFA) and The Football Association (FA) framework for school boy and girl football, along with the relevant rules and recommendations, for inter-school competitive and friendly matches from Key Stages 1 to 4. The framework offers a variety of engaging options for all young people. Please note that all independent schools football competitions must be registered and sanctioned by ISFA. There is no charge for such registration. For further information, please contact: Sean Smith Football Development Officer, ISFA [email protected]
Donna McIvor National Football Development Manager (Education),The FA [email protected]
Years 1-4 (Ages 5-9)
Recommended Format Fun football festivals involving large numbers of children are recommended. These festivals should incorporate movement skills delivered through a multi-skill approach through fun football games. All players should experience all positions, including goalkeeper, through 4v4 and 5v5 games. Mini-Soccer, ideally with teams of not more than 5-a-side, is the recommended format at this age level. NB FA Regulations state that there should be no competitive football below the age of 8. ISFA recommends that schools should concentrate on festivals, rather than competitions, at all age groups up to and including U9. Games at this age level can be mixed, involving both girls and boys. Schools should contact their local ISFA “Focus School” for details of Football Festivals in their area. For further information, please the ISFA Football Development Officer ([email protected]
) or visit the ISFA website.
Further Information And Assistance Children at this age should be encouraged to participate in the FA Tesco Skills programme – www.thefa.com/skills Teachers wishing to learn more about appropriate multi-skilled games for this age group should consider the following course: • FA Age Appropriate Coaching Course, 5-11 (one day) • Handling and Movement (half day) INSET Days for schools, involving instruction for all football coaches in an individual school or group of schools, can be arranged through the ISFA Focus School for each region.
Rationale Competitions for children of this age level are not required and are often counter-productive. This is not to say that children at this age should not be encouraged to be competitive. Indeed, they will naturally play games competitively anyway and do not require competitions - often devised by adults primarily for the benefit and interest of adults – for this to be achieved. Competitive football at this age can be counter-productive to the acquisition of skill, with children discouraged by adults from experimenting in favour of playing for the result.
Years 5-6 (Ages 9-11)
Recommended Format NB FA Regulations state that children below the age of 10 (Year 5) should not play in games of more than 7-a-side. 11-a-side is permitted under FA regulations at U11 (Year 6) only but this is not the recommended format of the game at this age level; Year 5 and Year 6 pupils may play together but only if the game does not consist of more than 7-a-side. ISFA recommends that mini-soccer games of 6v6 or 7v7 be played at this level. Games can be mixed, involving both boys and girls. At U11 (Year 6) 9v9 at most is considered appropriate. Competitions Available There are an increasing number of regional smallsided tournaments for this age level. Schools should contact their local ISFA “Focus School” for details of Football Festivals and Tournaments in their area. For further information, please contact the ISFA Football Development Officer ([email protected]
) or visit the ISFA website. Further Information And Assistance Children at this age should be encouraged to participate in the FA Tesco Skills programme – www.thefa.com/skills ISFA recommends that teachers wishing to learn more about appropriate multi-skilled games for this age group should consider the following courses: • FA Age Appropriate Coaching – Introductory Module (one day) • Working with Teams (one day) More advanced coaches may wish to attend the following courses: • FA Youth Award Module 1 (32 hours) • 1st4sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football (30 hours) • FA Handling and Movement module (1/2 day) INSET Days for schools, involving instruction for all football coaches in an individual school or group of schools, can be arranged through ISFA Focus Schools
Rationale Small-sided football is considered appropriate at this age level because: In small-sided football: • Every player gets more time on the ball, is therefore more involved in the action and enjoys the game more • Every player gets more opportunity to defend, pass, head, dribble and shoot • A smaller pitch means there is less pressure to play aimless long kicks forward • A smaller pitch means there will be lots of shots, lots of goals, lots of saves and lots of fun • Basically players will have more touches on the ball and therefore technical development will be accelerated, in comparison to 11v11, during the vital years of development In 11-a-side football: • The games are invariably dominated by the biggest and strongest players rather than the more technically gifted players • Players are ’pigeon holed’ to play in a particular position from an early age; therefore individual development does not occur at the desired rate • Some players can go for long periods of the game without touching the ball at all. School Matches: • The FA and ISFA recommend Festivals where 2 or more schools can field as many small-sided teams as they wish, playing a series of matches on a friendly basis. There should not be too much importance placed on results, which are invariably of more interest to the adults than the children. Children of this age are naturally competitive anyway and will play accordingly. • Whenever possible, schools are encouraged to field more than one team in order to increase the number of children involved.
Years 7-9 (Ages 11-14)
Recommended Format FA Regulations state that mixed football is not permitted at 11+ (ie Year 7 and above). All matches must be boys only or girls only
Competition Available - Girls
The recommended formats of the game for this age group are:
U13 Regional ISFA Representative Teams for outstanding players are selected in regions around the country
•6v6 or 7v7 •9v9 •11v11 •Futsal (indoor 5-a-side) 9v9 football is particularly recommended at U12 level to assist in the gradual transition from minisoccer to 11v11. The FA Recommendation for Girls football is that they should play 7v7 at U12 level and 9v9 at U13 and U14 levels. Competitions Available - Boys
• ISFAG National Six-a-Side Tournament (U13) Elite Player Development Programme - Boys
The ISFA U13 Regional Festival takes place at the end of March each year, following which a National Development Squad is selected. Further Information And Assistance ISFA recommends that teachers coaching school teams at this age level should have attended the following the following courses: • FA Age Appropriate Coaching – Introductory Module (one day) • Working with Teams (one day)
More advanced coaches may wish to attend the following courses:
•Rensburg Sheppards ISFA U13 Cup
• FA Youth Award Module 1 (32 hours)
•IAPS Six-a-Side Tournament (IAPS schools only)
• 1st4sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football (30 hours)
Individual regions are encouraged to organise local small-sided and/or 11-a-side tournaments and also Futsal tournaments. Under FA regulations, these tournaments must be registered with ISFA (no charge).
• Handling and Movement (half day)
Years 10-11 (Ages 14-16)
Recommended Format FA Regulations state that all matches must be boys only or girls only The recommended formats of the game for this age group are: • 6v6 or 7v7 • 11v11
Further Information And Assistance ISFA recommends that teachers coaching school teams at this age level should have attended at least one of the following courses: • Working with Teams (1 day) • 1st4sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football (30 hours)
• Futsal (indoor 5-a-side)
More advanced coaches may wish to attend the following course:
Competitions Available - Boys National Competition:
• 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football (72 hours)
• Rensburg Sheppards ISFA U15 Cup
ISFA strongly recommends that teachers in charge of the School Under-16 ‘A’ team should have attended the following course:
Individual regions are encouraged to organise local small-sided and 11-a-side tournaments and also Futsal tournaments. Those organising tournament should note that, under FA regulations, these tournaments must be registered with ISFA (no charge). In order to register a tournament please contact the ISFA Football Development Officer – [email protected]
Competition Available - Girls • ISFAG National Six-a-Side Tournament (U15) ISFA Player Development Programme - Boys U14 & U15 Player Development Programme. The Development Squad will pursue a programme at U14 and U15 levels designed to stretch the best players at a level above inter-school football. • ISFA Under-16 Boys Representative Team ISFA Player Development Programme – Girls The ISFAG run Development Centres in various parts of the country, leading to selection of two national representative teams: • ISFAG Under-16 Representative Team • ISFAG Under-14 Representative Team
• 1st4sport Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Football (90 hours)
Years 12-13 (Ages 16-18)
Recommended Format FA Regulations state that all matches must be boys only or girls only The recommended formats of the game for this age group are: • 6v6 or 7v7 • 11v11 • Futsal (indoor 5-a-side) Competitions Available - Boys National Competitions: • Boodles ISFA Cup (U18) • a2om ISFA Six-a-Side Tournament (U18) Individual regions are encouraged to organise local small-sided and 11-a-side tournaments and also Futsal tournaments. Those organising tournament should note that, under FA regulations, these tournaments must be registered with ISFA (no charge). In order to register a tournament please contact the ISFA Football Development Officer – [email protected]
Competitions Available - Girls National Competitions: • ISFAG National Senior Cup (U18) • ISFAG National Senior Six-a-Side Tournament (U19) • ISFAG National Senior Six-a-Side Tournament (U17) Elite Player Programme • ISFA Under-18 Boys Representative Team • ISFAG Under-18 Girls Representative Team Further Information And Assistance ISFA recommends that teachers coaching school teams at this age level should have attended the following courses: • 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football (72 hours) At schools where football is a main sport, ISFA strongly recommends that the School 1st XI coach should have attended the following course: • 1st4sport Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Football (90 hours) or • FA Youth Award Module 1, 2 and 3
Relating to small side and 11-a-side football, age brackets, gender of players and substitutions
Children Under 6 years old A child who has not attained nor will have attained the age of 6 as at midnight on 31st August in a playing season shall not play, and shall not be permitted nor encouraged to play, in a match of any kind in that playing season. Children permitted to play Small Side football only A child who has not attained nor will have attained the age of 10 as at midnight on 31 August in a playing season shall not play, and shall not be permitted nor encouraged to play, in a match between sides of more than seven players in that playing season. Such children shall only play in a match played according to the “Laws of the Game – Small Side Football” as amended for particular age ranges by the Council from time to time. Children permitted to play Eleven-a-Side and Nine-a-Side Any child may play in a match between sides of eleven players according to the Laws of the Game or between sides of nine players according to the “Laws of the Game”, save for those specifically prohibited from doing so pursuant to this rule. Age Brackets A child in the age ranges U7, U8, U9, U10, U11, U12, U13, U14 and U15 must not play, and shall not be permitted nor encouraged to play, in a match where any other player is older or younger by 2 years or more than that person.
Genders of players in Under-11 matches A child in the age ranges U7, U8, U9, U10 and U11 may play in a match involving both boys and girls. Substitutions The principle of “repeated” substitutes is mandatory in all matches and competitions up to and including the Under-16 age group. A player who has been substituted during a match then becomes a substitute and may, in turn, replace another player at any time, subject to the substitution being carried out in accordance with Law 3 of the Laws of the Game.
FA Coaching Courses
The following FA Coaching Courses are recommended by ISFA to teachers in independent schools. These courses can be taken through local County FAs and details can be found on the County FA website. From time to time, if demand is sufficient and with the assistance of the FA, ISFA may arrange courses specifically for teachers in ISFA schools. • Age Appropriate Coaching Course – Introductory Module • Handling and Movement • Working With Teams module • FA Youth Award Module 1. In order to attend this course, it is necessary to be a qualified teacher and have already attended the Age Appropriate Coaching Introductory Module or already hold a 1st4sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football. • FA Youth Award Module 2. In order to attend this course, it is necessary to have attended Module 1
• 1st4sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football • 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football (UEFA B Part 1) Qualified teachers may attend this course without having first attended a Level 1 course. However, they must show evidence of holding the F.A. Emergency Aid Certificate or equivalent and having attended an F.A. Workshop on Child Protection and Best Practice • 1st4sport Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Football (UEFA B Part 2). This course is only open to those holding a Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football. • FA Youth Award Module 3. In order to attend this course, it is necessary to have attended Module 2 and hold a 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Footbal
FA Respect Programme
The FA Respect Programme was introduced in 2008. ISFA strongly supports this programme and urges schools to participate in it. In particular: • At younger age levels, players should be left to enjoy their game of football free from constant instruction from the touchline • All coaching should be encouraging in nature and should be given only by the official coach. Parents and other spectators should not be permitted to give instruction and should certainly not be permitted to criticise. Parents and spectators who are not prepared to respect these guidelines should be asked to leave. • Parents and spectators should be kept well back from the touchlines, ideally by means of a rope or other barrier • Schools may wish to ask players to undertake an official “Fair Play Handshake” before the match. After the match players at all age levels should always be encouraged to shake hands with both their opponents and the match officials. • ISFA schools should expect the highest standards from their pupils in relation to respect for the referee’s decisions. • Team captains should assist the referee in managing their team’s behaviour. Referees are encouraged to use the team captains for communication with players and the team in general • Foul and/or abusive language should never be tolerated under any circumstances at any age level in any ISFA match • Teachers in charge of school teams are role models and their behaviour will affect the behaviour of their teams. Their conduct and attitude should always be exemplary. Further information on the FA Respect programme, including Codes of Conduct for players, referee, coaches and parents, can be found at the FA website - www.thefa.com/Leagues/Respect.aspx A Code of Conduct for ISFA schools can be found at the ISFA website.
Recommendations regarding Sizes of Pitch and Goalposts
The following recommendations on appropriate pitch and goal sizes for different age groups should be applied when possible:
Suggested Pitch Size in Yards
Suggested Size of Goalposts
Pitch Dimensions in Yards Length
(Lth x Wdt)
(Ht x Wdt)
6ft x 12ft
6ft x 12ft
7ft x 16ft
7ft x 21ft
7ft x 21ft
8ft x 24ft
Mini-Soccer U7-U8 50 x 30 Mini-Soccer U9-U11 60 x 40 9v9 80 x 50 Youth U11-U12 (11v11) 80 x 50 Youth U13-U14 (11v11) 90 x 55 Youth U15-U16 (11v11) 100 x 60
Youth U17-U18 & Seniors (11v11) 110 x 70
8ft x 24ft
Regulations relating to Goalpost Safety
ISFA strongly urges all schools to take heed of instructions from the Football Association on goalpost safety. The Football Association, along with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Health and Safety Executive and the British Standards Institution, has issued the following guidelines for the safe use of goalposts. Too many serious injuries and fatalities have occurred in recent years as a result of unsafe or incorrect use of goalposts. Safety is always of paramount importance and everyone in football must play their part to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future 1. For safety reasons goalposts of any size (including those which are portable and not installed permanently at a pitch or practice field) must always be anchored securely to the ground; 2. Portable goalposts must be secured as per the manufacturer’s instructions; 3. Under no circumstances should children or adults be allowed to climb on, swing or play with the structure of the goalposts; 4. Particular attention is drawn to the fact that if not properly assembled and secured, portable goalposts may overturn. 5. Regular inspections of goalposts must be carried out to check that they are properly maintained. 6. Portable goalposts should not be left in place after use. They should be dismantled and removed to a place of secure storage. 7. The use of metal cup hooks on goals was banned from the commencement of 2007/08 season and match officials have been instructed not to commence matches where such net fixings are evident for safety reasons. Nets should only be secured by plastic hooks, net grips or tape and not by metal cup hooks. Any metal cup hooks should have been removed and replaced. New goalposts should not be purchased if they include metal cup hooks. 8. Goalposts which are “home-made” or which have been altered from their original size or construction should not be used. These have been the cause of a number of deaths and injuries.
9. There is no BS/CEN standard for wooden goalsand it is unlikely that wooden goals will pass a load or stability test. The FA recommends that wooden goals should be replaced when necessary with compliant metal, aluminum or plastic goalposts. All wooden goals previously tested by independent consultants have failed strength and stability tests. For reference, you should note that The FA and BSI, in conjunction with the industry, have developed two standards for goalposts – BSEN 748 (2004) and BS 8462 (2005). It is strongly recommended that you ensure that all goals purchased comply with the relevant standard. A Code of Practice BS 8461 has also been completed and copies of all of these three standards are available from the British Standards Institute. Funding for replacement goals is available via the Football Foundation and eligibility criteria and further details can be obtained on their web site – www.footballfoundation.org.uk
REMEMBER TO USE GOALPOSTS SAFELY AT ALL TIMES
Recommendations regarding the Size of Match Balls
Size 4 or Size 5
Age 15 and over
The FA National Football Development Programme Independent Schools Football Association ISFA Schools National Football Framework