The 2021 winter season will see the Mixed Under 12 competitions move to a modified 9 vs 9 format, in line with the existing format used for our Girls Under 12 competitions.
The change comes after extensive discussions between the NSFA Football Department and NSFA Club representatives, as well as wider discussions with Football NSW, other local associations and FFA Technical Director Trevor Morgan.
“The changes NSFA intend to bring are in line with our way of thinking and in general with the technical direction of Football in Australia,” Morgan said.
“FFA supports initiatives taken to improve the quality of football experience our junior players receive.
“There is world-wide evidence that smaller sided games for young players are more beneficial and relevant to their stage of growth and maturation.
“This format allows players to be experience match play whilst being challenged technically through multiple repeated actions in smaller areas and will provide a game environment that better meets the needs of young footballers.”
NSFA Technical Director Jason Eagar further underlined the benefits of the change to the NSFA player experience.
“The introduction of 9 vs 9 into the U12 mixed environment is a great move for player development and enjoyment in NSFA,” Eagar commented.
“Players will have the benefit of more touches on the ball in more realistic spaces for their stage of development, technique and decision making will be tested more appropriately, while still having all the normal 11v11 rules and a competition table.
“Credit to the NSFA Clubs, the NSFA Competitions Department, and the NSFA Football Department for bringing this concept to life.”
Globally, the dominant football nations have played modified football formats for age groups up until Under 14 for many years due to the widely accepted research and evidence it has on player development and enjoyment.
The benefits of Under 12 adopting the proposed 9 vs 9 modified format include.
- Increase touches of the ball per player
- Increase ‘engagement’ in match actions for players
- More enjoyable player experience
- Improves player development outcomes
- Improvement in player/team retention (particularly due to change from primary to high school)
Games will be played 9 vs 9 on a field 60m x 40m, whilst maintaining the ‘competition’ element through the publication of match results and the league table. Players continue to play with a Size 4 ball as well as 5m x 2m goals.
This is in line with the standards utilised in the Girls Under 12 competitions since they changed to 9 vs 9 in 2015, with teams also still able to compete in the Football NSW State Cups and Champion of Champions tournaments.
As with all other Junior Mixed and Junior Girls matches, KDFRA referees will be appointed to fixtures.
In a change from the existing 9 vs 9 rules, for 2021 the offside rule will also be enforced.