Starting at the end of this month, the purpose of the league is to provide an opportunity to support the transition of players from youth to adult football in a safe and enjoyable playing environment.
Sarah Wood, Football Development Manager at Oxfordshire FA, said: “We’ve spoken with a lot of team managers throughout the season who felt that many of their youth players weren’t quite ready to make the step into adult football. Delivering an U21 pilot league seems to be the perfect answer to allow players in their later teenage years to have a taster of men’s football and to mix with adult players in a safe environment. We’re trying to be as flexible as possible by offering this opportunity midweek as we know many young people have other commitments on weekends such as a weekend job”.
“We want clubs to encourage their adult and youth teams to work more closely together and the Oxfordshire FA U21 pilot league is a great way to start, as this allows clubs to enter a team of both adult and youth players. Furthermore, we want to see clubs tackle this challenge internally and look at different ways of providing a player pathway for their youth players into first or reserve teams”.
“The U21 league has been heavily subsidised by Oxfordshire FA to ensure that this is an affordable opportunity. Teams pay a weekly match of £30 which goes towards referee fees and pitch hire. We want to make the pilot a success and then we can start to look at how we can incorporate an U21 opportunity into the regular playing season”.
The league format will allow teams to have unlimited squad sizes, utilise rolling substitutions and include up to three players over the age of 21 within their match day squads. Fixtures will take place on grass pitches on Wednesday evenings at Cutteslowe Park, Oxford with games lasting for 60 minutes. Fixtures will start on Wednesday 29th June.
As league administrators, Oxfordshire FA will source FA qualified Referees to officiate matches and ensure that pitches are booked. However, teams will be asked to complete a weekly team sheet and pay a £30 match fee for each game.
If the league proves a success and there is enough interest from clubs wishing to enter teams, our intention is to continue the offer of U21 football into next season, 2016-17.
To enter the summer league please complete the online registration form and arrange to make a £30 payment with Oxfordshire FA to secure your place by Wednesday 22nd June at 5.00pm.
For more information about the league please contact Sarah Wood on 01993 894405.