Everything You Need to Know About Under 8s Football in England

under 8s football goalkeeper
Under 8s football adheres to the FA laws of "Mini Soccer," which determine the age of players, time limits on games and other things too. Got a child going into under 8s football or considering it? Here's everything you need to know about football at this level in England.

Contents

Under 8s Football

The Key Points

Who can play Under 8s football?

We'll cover the age requirements in more detail. But in short, under 8s is typically played by children aged 7 and 8 in school year 3 in England. Year 1 children aged 6 are also permitted to play "up" an age category and play under 8s.

How many players play in U8s games?

Under 8s football adheres to the FA "mini soccer" rules which is a 5v5 format game. So there should be 5 players on each team.

How long do under 8s game last?

Mini soccer laws dictate that a game should be no longer than 40 minutes in total (two 20 minute periods of play). However, some leagues play shorter games than this. Check with your local league.

Mini Soccer – For both Under 7s and Under 8s Football Games

The FA produces laws for “mini soccer” and this is the format of play for competitive football at under 7s and under 8s age groups.

The FA does not permit competitive/league football below this age bracket (though there are many under 6 teams playing friendlies in preparation for their first league season at under 7s). 

The same mini soccer laws apply to both under 7s and under 8s age groups. The main differences at these groups are in the size of players. Players at under 8 (not always) are typically bigger making the game more of a physical challenge in many cases.

At what age can children play under 8s football?

Children playing football in under 8s teams are generally aged 7 and 8. The age categories children play at are based on their school year. So under 8s players are typically in school year 3.

The age group in which children play football in England is based on their age as of 31st August during that season.

So, a child who is 7 on 31st August at the start of a season (even though they will turn 8 during that season) can play under 8s football.

Players from 6 and over are permitted to play up an age level (and once they’re older they can play up multiple levels but that doesn’t impact under 8s). So a child in year 2, aged 6, could also play under 8s football.

How many players are on an under 8s team?

There are 5 players in an under 8s football team on the pitch for each team at any time.

FA mini soccer laws determine that the game is 5 vs 5. 

If you have a team short of a player, however, Mini Soccer Laws permit the game to go ahead with 5 v 4 or 4 v 4. 

However, no game may even begin if each team does not have at least 4 players.

How long does an under 8s game last?

This varies and the specific league that your child’s team plays in will set the game length within the confines of laws set out by the FA for Mini Soccer.

The FA stipulates that no mini soccer game can be more than 40 minutes in total and must be played in 2 equal halves.

However, some leagues (like the East Manchester Junior Football League) play 30 minute games at under 7s and under 8s made up of two 15 minute halves.

 

What’s the maximum squad size at Under 8s?

10.

FA Laws of Mini Soccer specify a squad should be no larger than twice the size of a team at this level. So with a team of 5, the squad size is limited to 10 players.

Importantly, the FA recommends equal opportunity to play when it comes to substitutions. This is as opposed to coaching substituting players based on ability or performance. So it recommends all players in a squad play a minimum of half of the game. 

The emphasis here is very much on development and opportunity for young players.

Do under 8s teams have league standings and tables?

Right across Primary School age groups (so from u7s to u11s, the FA prohibits teams and leagues from publishing standings and results. So while the publication of a list of teams in each league and how many games they have played is permitted, the score lines, the results and the league standing are not published.

Trophy event (cup games) results may have results published, but league game results must not be.

The intention here is to encourage more focus on player development and less on the winning. It’s very much an “effort and ethos over outcome” mentality, which studies have consistently proven correlate with better development for young footballers.

What size ball is used in u8s football?

A size 3 ball is used and the FA Laws of Mini Soccer suggest this is made of leather or another “suitable material”.

The size 3 ball is used right up to u11s now.

What size is the goal in under 8s football?

It’ll come as no surprise that they’re not throwing 7 year old keepers in full size goals!

The goals used in under 8s football are considerably smaller.

The size of goal is 6 feet tall and 12 feet wide. 

Are there any kit rules for U8s footballers?

Yes, there are rules stipulating kit requirements. Most importantly, children have to wear shin guards (which are covered by their socks) for protection.

Footwear must be “appropriate for the surface” they’re playing on. So if you’re playing on astroturf, no metal studs allowed. It’s also required that the goalkeeper wears a “distinguishing strip,” to make them easily stand out from the outfield players on the pitch.

How do I find an under 8s team for my child?

There are thousands of under 8s football teams up and down the country actively inviting players to join.

A quick Google search will help uncover some. But we are huge fans of the FA’s “football finder” tool at https://find.englandfootball.com/

football finder

This really is an excellent resource that helps you find football clubs or casual play teams for all ages, genders and ability levels as well disabled specific teams.

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