College teams required to take part in mixed-football study

AoC Sport is asking women’s teams competing in ECFA competitions to help contribute to research surrounding mixed football.

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The age limit at which boys and girls can play football in the same teams was raised for the 2015-16 season. The resolution to increase the mixed football age limit from U16s to U18s was approved by The FA shareholders at an AGM after The FA board, FA executive and FA council agreed the proposal. This has enabled The FA to conduct further research into mixed football at this older age group.

The FA, in partnership with AoC Sport, are seeking opportunities for researchers to observe male and female 17 or 18-year-olds participate in mixed football matches. If you are interested in supporting this research please contact as soon as possible, as research will begin in October 2016.

The role of your college would be to arrange an 11v11 internal mixed football match and / or mixed football match with other local colleges and partners in October – November for researchers from Brunel University to observe.

Please see guidance notes below for further details on what this entails.  It is expected that all participants give written consent to participate in the study (consent forms to be provided by Brunel University).

Colleges who are willing to support will simply need to

  1. Register interest with
  2. Confirm with Brunel when they can observe a mixed teams competing
  3. Provide Brunel with consent to observe the match
  4. Provide a college contact and phone number for Brunel in case they need directions or to let Brunel know if the match is cancelled

For the past 10 years The FA have commissioned Brunel University to undertake independent research and risk assessment on mixed football. ‎Currently mixed football is permitted up to the age of U18.

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Brunel University has been contracted to conduct an independent risk assessment with U17-U18 youth football teams. The research is going to be used to understand more about risk of injury in U18 football. The research involves two researchers standing on the side of the pitch completing an assessment schedule. They will contact the coaches prior to the match and introduce themselves on arrival. The only input we will need from coaches is the date, time and location of the match and their consent. Data will need to be collected from October to December.

Matches will need to be 11v11 and Brunel may wish to visit more than once, though a one-off match would also be valuable. Brunel will welcome opportunities to observe either/both U17 and U18 mixed football. Both teams competing in the match need to be of the same age group and the match should be of a competitive standard (teams of a similar ability). Teams can include one female, or ideally include a number of girls. All players must want to participate in the game.

The reason for this is to provide girls and women with the opportunity to choose if they would like to continue to play football with their friends as part of a mixed team after U10 and/or to be challenged at an appropriate level for their personal development and enjoyment of the game.

The FA has recently set a goal to double the participation and fan base of Women’s Football by 2020. As The FA’s Further Education partner, AoC Sport and its members will directly contribute to this goal through ECFA Competitions and College Football Hubs.

Rachel Pavlou, The FA’s national development manager for women’s football said: “UEFA annually ask all European countries to declare their mixed football age limit – Denmark has no limit, Holland and Switzerland have an upper limit of 19, and Germany and Italy have upper limits of 17.

“All these countries feel strongly, like we do in England, that mixed football is an important additional choice to their female-only provision.”

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In the aim of increasing participation and providing high-quality opportunities for everyone to play the  game, AoC Sport invites and urges colleges to register their support of this study. The move to U18 mixed football has been welcomed by former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis, who hung up her gloves this season focus on coaching and a media career.‎

“Mixed teams offer girls a choice in the environment that they want to play. They are of particular value for talented players in areas where girl’s football is still emerging or played to at a less competitive level. So if they are going to be better tested in mixed football, then why not?”

The ECFA Committee is reviewing what implications a proposed age increase in mixed football would have on college football; though we have no indication that a proposed rule change to increase the mixed football age will occur in the short or long term.