POLICY REGARDING PLAY AT UNDER 8
(revised and adopted by the Board of Directors June 6, 2012)
 
Travel and tournament play at the Under 8 level has been the subject of discussion at Massachusetts Youth Soccer Board of Directors’ meetings and at League Presidents’ meetings for the past year. The Massachusetts Youth Soccer Technical Department and the Board of Directors oppose traditional “travel” soccer programs and leagues, as well as tournament play, for U8 players. Massachusetts Youth Soccer does not sanction tournament play at the Under 8 level and, at this time, discourages our member organizations from including U8 divisions in any tournament format. We do not believe that this level of competitive play is developmentally appropriate for children at the U8 age level.

Massachusetts Youth Soccer does recognize that there are instances where limited inter-town/club play can be important in creating viable soccer opportunities for children at the U8 level. In situations where contingent towns/clubs need to play each other to provide ample game opportunities for U8 players, we completely understand and support towns/clubs working together to achieve this end. Therefore the Board of Directors has adopted the following exception policy:

Inter-Town/Club Play 
a.     Town/Club organizations with less than 50 registered U8 players (e.g. 5 teams with10-player rosters) may combine with (travel to) adjacent towns/clubs to enjoy inter-town/club play.
b.    U8 players/teams shall not be required to travel more than 20 miles.
 
Any town/club organization that is aggrieved by this policy and that determines it needs an exception to these limitations to effectively provide appropriate opportunities for its U8 players may file an appeal with the Massachusetts Youth Board of Directors.
 
Tournament Play
U8 teams may participate in a jamboree-type division in a tournament that has been sanctioned by Massachusetts Youth Soccer with the following requirements:
 
a.   Scores or standings shall not be kept or posted in the U8 division of the tournament;
b.    U8 players/teams shall not be required to travel more than 20 miles.
c.     U8 teams may only be charged participation fees that cover just the direct costs of their division.

Playing Up
U8 players shall be permitted to “play up” only under all of the following conditions:
 
a.     No more than two U9/U10 teams of each gender per town/club organization may have U8 players on any of their rosters; and
b.    Small town/club soccer programs need additional players to have a viable U9/U10 team so it places strong U8 players on a U9/U10 team roster; and
c.     No U9/U10 player is denied a roster spot in favor of a U8 player; and
d.    U8 players comprise less than 40% of any single team’s roster
 
A U8 player with a birthday after July 31st, but who will be in the third grade in the current school year, may play on a U9 or U10 team with classmates.
          
Playing numbers – Format of Competitions
The format for U8 game competitions should be 4v4 with no goalkeepers in accordance with US Youth Soccer National Recommendations. A ratio of 8 players to 1 ball is developmentally appropriate for these young players who are attempting to improve their technical skills and basic decision-making abilities. In addition the USSF technical leadership is overwhelmingly opposed to having goalkeepers at this age level. We believe that it is more  important for the development of all players in this age group (and younger) to focus on their skills as a field player.