Football for children before the most radical reform

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The growing passion for football: in G-Youth you have to play in 2v2 or 3v3 for 4 small goals there will be no more headers. © Halmel

Stay away from league operations, more fun, less pressure in performance, health protection.

Boycott – Football for children in Germany is about to be overturned. The German Football Association (DFB) has decided what is the most radical reform ever for age groups up to E-Youth. The German Football Association hopes the innovations will bring more fun, less stress to perform, and better health protection. The new rules, which essentially mandate smaller team sizes, smaller stadiums and a departure from classic league operations, will go into effect nationwide for the 2024/2025 season. Said Ronnie Zimmermann, Vice President of the German Football Association responsible for children and youth. “We need to think like children, not like adults. Only children who develop fun and enjoyment in the game will stay in football.”

Specifically, the fix states that in youth class G (U6/U7) it is mandatory to play in two-on-two or three-on-three for four mini-goals – similar to the so-called funino. The same goes for the F Youth (U8/U9), where the DFB recommends three players per side, but also allows four or five players per team. In E-Jugend (U10/U11) the scheme is five over five with a maximum of seven over seven; There is also a gradual transition to the use of small goals and goalkeepers. “The new forms of play should give everyone on the field the opportunity to put the ball at their feet as much as possible,” Zimmermann explains. “They should be actively involved in the game and score as many goals as possible.” Furthermore, the reform – to reduce performance pressure – provides a departure from the classic starring role in the G and F youth.

The tables won’t be there either. Instead, in the afternoons and festivals, kids compete with a number of other teams and on several playgrounds. Depending on the outcome of the match, teams are promoted or relegated to the next field during the tournament. According to the DFB, more games will be lost and won with this new mode, “so that kids learn how to better handle wins and defeats.”

Another aspect of the reform concerns titles in the children’s area, which have been ruled out entirely by the new rules, according to the Football Association. The reason for this is that the stadiums are much smaller. In addition, a throw-in and a goal kick will be replaced by dribbling; So the deductions by the goalkeeper will not happen with difficulty. “We want to be more careful about head impacts in the youth field. The recent results give us reason to do so,” says Klaus Rinsberger, Professor of Sports Medicine from the University of Paderborn is responsible for the topic “Head Injuries in Football” at the German Football Association Medical Committee. He asserts: “We are particularly focused on lasting effects rather than short-term bans. From a medical point of view, we frankly welcome the fact that small-sided toy shapes greatly reduce the number of heads in children.”

Far-reaching reforms in children’s football will be implemented in phases. In the transition period to summer 2024, it is recommended that state associations use the new play formats in the U6 to U11 age groups – but there is no obligation to do so. Only at the start of the 2024/2025 season will the rules become binding across Germany.

There will be no more titles

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