Children in what is known as the Foundation Phase, from U7– U11, do not play in leagues. At this age, the games are a small-sided format such as 5v5 and 7v7, also known as mini-soccer, with amended rules, and age-appropriate pitch, goal and ball sizes. These arrangements are designed to increase the number of touches of the ball for each player, develop confidence and skill in 1v1 situations while assisting with the long term development of young footballers in this country.
In the Foundation Phase, the emphasis is on enjoying playing, developing a love for football and creating an environment that is exciting, memorable and one that keeps children coming back - building on the principles of the Wildcats sessions for Girls from 5 years old and upwards.
To deliver these outcomes, teams play in what are known as Development Leagues - although they aren’t actually a League at all - whilst teams play the other teams in their age group, no results are published, there are no League tables and no trophy winners at the end of the season.
Please note that in order to comply with the Foundation Phase rules, it is not permitted for clubs - or parents - to reference the results of Development League games in social media posts or by other means.
Teams can, however, play in a maximum of three trophy events (for example Cup competitions) during the season. This allows them to learn about winning and losing in a fun environment. Trophies can be awarded to the winners and the results of the mini-event can published.
The FA’s Philosophy for this Age group, summed up by Peter Sturgess, FA National Lead Coach & FIFA Futsal Instructor, is: „We all want children to enjoy playing and fall
in love with football from an early age. Mini- Soccer and Futsal are both designed to allow children to do just that. They both have a key role to play in the development of young players in the Foundation Phase. We want to create an environment that is exciting, memorable and one that keeps children coming back.
We ask all coaches to see them as children first, rather than kids who might be good at football. These games have to have laws of course, but the overriding message for us all is to make it fun and enjoyable.”
You can find out more about the Foundation Phase, and mini-soccer, including the rules of play, HERE