The FA have issued a number of changes to the laws of mini-soccer and the standard code of rules for youth football this season as a result of the ongoing changes to the game through the Youth Review.

Important changes to be aware of include playing format for each age-group, rules concerning players playing in an older age-group and the introduction of the ‘retreat line’.

The below is a clarification on some of the rule changes; visit for full details on pitch sizes, playing age-groups and laws of the game.

Playing Format

For the 2013-2014 season, the following table outlines acceptable playing formats by age-group.

These formats are mandatory.  Age-groups can play any format outlined in green this season, but cannot play any other format.  Reduced numbers of players and smaller field sizes mean more touches of the ball, more involvement and greater enjoyment for young players.

Click here to see The FA’s video explaining the rationale behind the Youth Review.

'Let’s see how the adults like it' puts adult players on an super-sized field with oversized goals, the equivalent of an u11 player on a full-sized football field.


Where possible players should play in their own age-group, but the FA’s regulations also allow youth players to play up one year.  This two-year banding allows teams with fewer players, especially in rural areas and in girls’ football, to have sufficient players to form a full team.  The two-year age band also allows talented players to play up a year to further his or her development.

The introduction of mandatory playing formats outlined in the table above has given rise to questions over whether players can play up one year if it means a change in format; specifically at u7, u10 and u11 age-groups.  The FA have stated that where there is a clear need for players in the u7, u10 or u11 age-group to participate in the higher age-group’s playing format, the sanctioning Association may grant special dispensation for this and that in all cases this dispensation can only come from the Chief Executive.  For Kent clubs, the Kent FA is the sanctioning Association.

In short;

  • If playing up one year does not mean a change in format, then it is permitted within the existing rules and does not require special dispensation.
  • If playing up one year does mean a change in playing format, then the club must obtain special dispensation from the Chief Executive of the Kent FA before the player can play in the higher format.

Dispensation should come from the secretary of the club and be addressed to the Chief Executive of the Kent FA.  A form to apply for dispensation is attached to the foot of this page.

Retreat Line

Another mandatory regulation that appears in this year’s mini-soccer laws for u7 to u10s is in Law 16, which covers Goal Kicks and the new ‘retreat line’.  

On taking a goal kick, all opposition players must retreat to the half-way line as a minimum to allow the goalkeeper the opportunity to play out from the back.

The goalkeeper is entitled to wait until all opposition players are out of his or her half of the field before taking the kick, and upon the awarding of the goal kick opposition players are expected to leave the half without delay.  If the goalkeeper chooses to take the goal kick quickly then the ball is in play as soon as it leaves the goal area, whether the opposition players have retreated to the half-way line or not.  In this instnace, a quick restart by the goalkeeper forfeits the opportunity to have the opposition players retreat to their own half. 

Full explanations of the above laws, guidance on field sizes for each playing format and details of the Youth Review can be found on the FA website.

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