What age group should my child play in?
This is one of the most asked questions and it is not always a simple answer.
CJSA follows US Soccer's birthyear mandate which dictates that athletes play in their age groups as follows:
Now for most kids this is pretty straight forward. However, periodically parents with kids that have late year birthdays opt to hold their kids back a year before entering school, which complicates the team selection. CJSA, our governing body, is clear in that league play, which starts at U9, on is based on the Birthyear of the oldest player(s) on the team.
Based on this, there are three ways to approach this:
A. We could let the older athlete play with their friends while young (K-2), but then when the team enters 3rd grade or U9, they enter CJSA league play. At that point, their friends would naturally move up to the U9 team based on their age... but the older athletes would get jumped up to U10 because the league rules are quite clear on this aspect.... they can't play down. From a training and psychological standpoint, a two year jump at that point can be much more challenging to make, possibly discouraging to players, and it could be much harder to catch up to the players that have been playing & training 2 years ahead. Thus they start the more competitive league play at a mental and technical disadvantage.
B. We could let the athlete play with his grade group... but once the team enters league play at U9, then the WHOLE team would have to play a year up for EVERY year after that. Most of the other parents would not agree to this nor does the club.
C. We could make the athletes play with their birth year group from the beginning, which allows them to integrate into that group and get a year or two of training at the level as that group so that the transition to league play is essentially a non-issue.
The club feels that option C is best for the young players from a training standpoint as well as a psychological standpoint, so we follow the BY mandate from the beginning.
Additionally, kids that have gone through this have still had fun and have been part of their teams despite being a year behind in school. Actually for those that stay with the program until the end, they will eventually be reunited with their friend in 8th grade, since at that point, even though they are a year older, they can't play HS sports so for that final year the whole team plays up as a U14/15 team. This happens to all towns almost every year for their teams and at that point the playing field is even.