For organised grassroots youth football, age groups correlate with school years, and the name of the age groups is the age of the child the start of that school year. For example, Under 10 teams have children who are age 9 on the 31st August, so starting Year 5 at school.
Children are allowed to play up one age group only, and not down an age group (unless exceptional circumstances*). Below are the right age group for your child to look for a team to play in:
- Year 2 - Under 7
- Year 3 - Under 8
- Year 4 - Under 9
- Year 5 - Under 10
- Year 6 - Under 11
- Year 7 - Under 12
- Year 8 - Under 13
- Year 9 - Under 14
- Year 10 - Under 15
- Year 11 - Under 16
Up to the age of 10 organised football is referred to as Mini Soccer by the FA and these teams in these age groups do not play in formal leagues and results are not published. These years should be about development and learning and preparing the children for moving up to competitive football. Football officially becomes 'competitive' from Under 12 when results and league tables can be published.
Year 1 And Younger FA rules state that a child can NOT play organised football in an actual match until they have achieved their 6th birthday. You will find clubs and organisations that have 'teams' at u5s and u6s ages and these should be an introduction to football with training programmes offered appropriate to their age, with the focus on encouraging fundamental movement (agility, balance and coordination), developing ball skills and having fun.
*Girls teams playing in mixed leagues are allowed to play in a league a year down from their official age group. (Thanks to Jon Stockton for the reminder) Boys and girls can now play football in the same teams up to the age of 18.
Now you know what age group your child should be playing here, find out what size football they should be playing with ---> 'Get The Right Size Football For Your Kid's Age'.
Suggested additional reading:
Goals, goals, and more goals! A guide to buying goals for your child to play with.