Everything You Need to Know About Under 9s Football in England

2 Children playing under 9s football
Football at under 9s in England follows the laws of Mini Soccer. These laws entail the maximum playing time for children, how many players can play in a match and even the size of the ball that should be used. If you want to get your child involved in Football and they are in this age group, here is all you need to know.

Contents

Under 9s Football

The Key Points

Who can play Under 9s football?

Under 9s football is generally for boys and girls in Year 4 in England. Children aged 8 & 9 are eligible to play at under 9s.

How many players play in U9s games?

Under 9s football adheres to the FAs laws of Mini Soccer rules. In the U9 format, teams are 7v7. 7 is the maximum number of players allowed on the pitch at once.

How long do under 9s game last?

The laws of Mini Soccer state that a game of under 9s football should be no longer than 50 minutes in total (generally with 2 halves of 25 minutes). However, some leagues may play shorter games than this. Check with your local league.

Mini Soccer – For Under 9s Football Games

Mini Soccer is a specific format of the game, for which the The FA has produced its own laws. Mini Soccer is played by all age groups of Primary school age, that is: under 7s, under 8s, under 9s and under 10s.

When players step up from under 8s to under 9s, they play for the first time in a 7 vs 7 format and on a slightly larger playing field.

The same mini soccer laws apply to all under 7s, under 8s, under 9s and under 10s age groups.  Generally speaking, the biggest difference is that the older the players are, the more physicality is involved in the game.  

At what age can children play under 9s football?

Under 9s football is played by school children in Year 4 in England – that is children aged 8 & 9.

The definition in the laws of Mini Soccer for under 9s football is that a child must be under the age of 9 on the 31st of August preceding the playing season.

Children who reach age 9 during the season are able to continue playing at under 9s level until the end of the season.

It is permissible for children from under 9s to “play up” one age level to under 10s during a season.  Similarly, children from the under 8s level are allowed to play up one age level to under 9s.  So a child in Year 3, who is 7 years old would be permitted to play at under 9s level

Children can only play up by one level until they reach 15 years of age.

How many players are on an under 9s team?

The maximum number of player allowed on an under 9s team is 7.  Squad sizes must be a maximum of 14 players.

Outside of Trophy events, it is possible to play smaller games, with fewer than 7 players.  There are numerous benefits to playing matches with smaller teams such as 3v3, 4v4, 5v5 and so on.

In competitive matches, teams must be made up of a minimum of 5 players, but will generally be 7v7.

The FA has introduced an option law for leagues to use – called the “Power Play”.  This is to be used if one team goes 4 goals down.  If a team has a 4 goal deficit, they can bring on another player to make it 8v7.  If the deficit is reduced to fewer than 4, the 8th player goes off.

However, if the score goes out to a 6 goal lead, the losing team can bring on yet another player to make it 9v7

How long does an under 9s game last?

The duration of an under 9s game can vary slightly.  The FA states that the minimum duration of a half at under-9s level is 20 minutes and the maximum is 25 – meaning that games can last between 40 and 50 minutes.

It is usual for the game to be played in two halves as it is at senior levels, but it is also OK to divide the game into quarters too.

The league that your under 9s will play in, will stipulate how long games will be, albeit within the confines set out above.

What’s the maximum squad size at Under 9s?

14

In the 7v7 format of the game, as it is at under-9s football, the maximum number of players permitted in the squad is 14.

Since the goal of football at under-9s level is player development, all children should get equal playing time, regardless of ability level.  Players should generally not be substituted because of how a coach thinks they have been playing.

Do under 9s teams have league standings and tables?

If you have a child playing Mini Soccer at any age level from under 7s through to under 10s, you will know that they generally play in leagues.  But why is it that it is impossible to find your teams standing in the leagues?

Simple. It is not allowed. 

Since the purpose of playing football at under 9s is to encourage the development of players.  Focus should generally be placed on effort and player mentality over results.

Teams and Leagues are permitted to publish their fixtures but they are not permitted to publish results and league tables – otherwise they will face a fine from the Football Association!

Exceptions are made for trophy events where where a team can win a competition, but this is strictly forbidden in league matches. Trophy event (cup games) results may have results published, but league game results must not be.

Young players tend to develop better using this approach, hence why the FA insists on it.

What size ball is used in U9s football?

Under 9s use a size 3 ball. The size 3 ball is used for all mini soccer games now.  Up until 2020, under 10s used a size 4 ball, but this has been changed to a size 3 in line with the other age groups of mini soccer.

What size is the goal in under 9s football?

Fortunately for the goalkeepers, under 9s play in goals that are considerably smaller than those we see at senior level.

All mini soccer ages play in goals that are 12 feet wide by 6 feet high.

Are there any kit rules for U9s footballers?

There are several rules in Mini Soccer regarding what players should and shouldn’t wear, most importantly:

  • Shin pads must be worn.  No player will be permitted to play without them.
  • The goalkeeper must wear a different coloured shirt to their teammates.
  • Appropriate footwear must be worn by all players.  For example, no metal studs on artificial pitches.

How do I find an under 9s team for my child?

You should easily be able to find an under 9s club for your child with a quick search in Google. There are thousands of clubs up and down the country.

The Football Association’s football finder page will help you find any FA affiliated teams near you and is really easy to use!

https://find.englandfootball.com/

Screenshot of England Football Finder for Under 9s Football

The football finder helps you to find the correct age group in the location that suits you. We really can’t recommend it highly enough.

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