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Summary and survey results of the BAFA Flag football age range consultations with reasonings behind the move!

As part of the process surveys were sent to 3 main groups: clubs, youth players and cadet players’ parents. Please see below for the findings of the consultation.


  • 14 Clubs took part in the survey
  • 10 Clubs answered the new age groups will not have a negative impact at their club
  • 2 Clubs answered that the new age groups would have a negative impact on their clubs
    • Reasonings were as follows:
    • Haven’t got enough players or coaches to run three age groups
    • Potential issues with scheduling and siblings being separated
  • 2 Clubs were not sure of the impact of the new age groups on their club
  • 11 Clubs had their own U17 Contact or Adult Flag team
    • Of these 11 teams 9 felt changing U16 Flag to U17 would be beneficial for players who may not be ready to play U17 Contact or Adult Flag yet; 2 did not feel it would be beneficial
  • 3 Clubs did not have their own U17 Contact or Adult Flag team
    • Of these 3 teams the nearest U17 Contact team or Adult Flag team was either 3-5 miles away (1) or greater than 5 miles away (2)

Youth Players

  • 37 players took part in the survey
  • 34 participants’ clubs had its own U17 Contact or Adult Flag team; 3 did not
    • For all these 3 participants the nearest U17 Contact or Adult Flag team was greater than 5 miles away.
  • Of the 37 participants, 20 players would have been ineligible to play Youth Flag next season
    • 12 of the 20 participants answered they would like Youth Flag available to them next year
    • If Youth Flag was not available next year 9 players answered they would take a break from American Football; 11 would play U17 Contact.

Cadet Players’ Parents

  • 74 parents took part in the survey
  • 62 parents believed the new age groups (U11 and U14) will provide a better playing experience for their child; 12 parents preferred the single age group of U13
  • Of the 74 parents who took part 29 of their children would have been eligible for the proposed U11 age group
    • 20 of these parents preferred the competitive approach for U11s; 9 parents preferred the non-competitive approach

Analysis of Consultation

The feedback from the consultation process shows participants who were interviewed were in favour of the new age groups; 71% of Clubs did not feel it would negatively impact them, 60% of affected Youth players wanted the option of U17 available to them and 84% of Cadet players’ parents preferred the new U11 and U14 age groups.

In addition, 45% of affected Youth players stated they would take the season off in 2020/21 instead of playing U17 Contact Football or Adult Flag. As a minority sport, it would be ill-advised to ignore these players and risk losing them from the sport altogether if they were to take a year out due to being ineligible to play Youth Flag.

82% of Clubs that had their own U17 Contact or Adult Flag teams felt that changing U16 to U17 would be beneficial for players who were not ready or did not want to play U17 Contact/Adult Flag football yet. Of the Clubs did not have their own U17 Contact or Adult Flag team, the nearest U17 Contact/Adult Flag team to these Clubs would have been at least 3-5 miles away, with most being greater than 5 miles away. Although this affected only a minority of teams, changing U16 to U17 will make it easier on the participants to continue playing as they will not need to travel 3+ miles to play.

14% of Clubs stated they felt the new age groups will negatively impact their Club. To help assist with this change a Sustainability Toolkit is being produced to help Clubs adapt to the new age groups and aide a smooth transition. This is currently in the review process before being published.

With regards to the newly proposed U11 age group, 69% of Cadet Players’ Parents preferred the competitive format for their children. Research has shown that the reason children play sports are due to five main reasons: perception of competence; fun and enjoyment; parents; learning new skills; and friends and peers (Cope et al., 2013). When subjected to competitive environments players were shown to exhibit lower levels of enjoyment and were more likely to drop out of playing sports altogether (Boixados et al., 2004; Prichard and Deutsch, 2015). As a minority sport in the UK, these are outcomes that should not be risked as part of the long-term strategy to increase and sustain participation. To help facilitate this goal Cope et al. (2013), advised the emphasis at this age group should be on fun, enjoyment, teamwork and effort instead of winning and competition.


After reviewing the feedback through the consultation process the following proposal, along with all the information above was presented to the board.

  • Age groups for the 2020/21 season will be U11, U14 and U17
  • U14 and U17 will follow the current competitive format of Cadet and Youth Flag Football respectively
  • U11 will follow a non-competitive format (no record keeping and end of season finals)
    • Research supports this (Cope et al., 2013; Boixados et al., 2004; Prichard and Deutsch, 2015)
    • It is standard practice amongst all team sports in the UK (Association Football, Cricket and Rugby)
    • U11 Toolkit will support teams adapting to this format

The Board approved the proposal as presented.

A full breakdown of age ranges and membership pricing can be found via the link below:
Fees | CLUBS & COMPETITIONS | British American Football Association

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