The number of teams in our 11v11 divisions has been steadily declining for a long time – not just in our league, but in other grassroots-level soccer leagues like ours. We know that the game has changed – the advent of higher-level travel clubs and the emergence of middle school soccer are two factors that come to mind.
But we know that there are kids out there – kids who want to continue to play all the way through their high school years. So many of them have given up on finding a place to play…and so many of our clubs have given up too (there are only so many times our clubs have tried to build a team, only to have 8 kids sign up).
But…in recent years, there has been a glimmer of hope…
· We’ve been able to have small, but viable, U15/U16 girls divisions and U15/U16 boys divisions.
· We even had a small U17 boys division back in the fall – for the first time in many years.
We’ve learned from these experiences at the U15+ age groups…
· A limited fall season, with games from mid-October to mid-November, and no playoffs.
· Clubs working together to find a team for each interested player – at a neighboring club, or sometimes at a club farther away.
We’re ready to take the next step – and we’re asking our Member Clubs to lead the effort to keep kids playing!
· Our next step…is that we want viable divisions (4 teams) in the following age groups in both fall and spring:
o U19 girls (includes U18/U17)
o U19 boys (includes U18/U17)
o U16 girls (includes U15)
o U16 boys (includes U15)
· In order to make it happen:
o We want all of our clubs to reach out to older players to encourage them to play
o We want our clubs to work together to pool interested players into teams (a team would play under the club who has the most players and/or provides the coach).
o RBJSL will support these efforts and will facilitate collaboration wherever possible.
o RBJSL will implement the short-season fall schedule (mid-October to mid-November) for these age divisions.
o RBJSL will consider implementing a 3-team division when necessary for a specific season.
o RBJSL will continue to encourage the formation of coed teams where possible and appropriate.
Think of it this way – we need only 60-80 kids across our 25 clubs in each of these age groups! We know…the kids and families will be doing more driving – for both practices and games…but the kids will definitely appreciate it!
For Fall 2022:
· U19 girls: This is our biggest challenge, we need to create 3-4 teams.
· U19 boys: 1 team is planning to return (AFC); we need to create 2-3 more teams
· U16 girls: We have 4 teams this spring (LMY, MYE, TWI, WIL) – let’s help them keep going!
· U16 boys: We have 6 teams this spring (AFC, CVY, MOU, MYE, TWI, UPM) – let’s help them keep going!
Many thanks to all of you for making the effort to help us establish consistently viable U16 and U19 divisions for both boys and girls. The above clubs have been trailblazers in keeping kids playing; now our league wants to make it possible for these clubs and teams to know they have a place to play...every season!
Let’s work together to keep kids playing!