ID cards rule for youth footballers

PUBLISHED: 15:17 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:05 15 June 2010

From September 1 young footballers who take to the field to play matches in any competition that is affiliated to the Devon County Football Association will have to have with them ID cards to prove just who they are and indeed what age they are

From September 1 young footballers who take to the field to play matches in any competition that is affiliated to the Devon County Football Association will have to have with them ID cards to prove just who they are and indeed what age they are - what's more it is going to be a case of: "No ID card, no play!"

The ruling applies to all age groups and the system is already being used in other counties. In real terms what it means is that youngsters from the age of eight will have to have an ID card and that card must be available to the opposition coach or match referee in the event of someone questioning a player's age.

The local youth football scene is already reeling from the news that the Football Association has 'outlawed' competitive football for the under-8 age group and below, and last week's news that Exeter City were banning their Academy players from playing in their local teams under Football League rules.

A Nottingham company has been enlisted to set up the mandatory scheme for the Devon County Football Association. The cards have a two year life time and cost £4.50 each.

Not everybody is happy with the introduction of the cards.

Andy Griffiths of Sidmouth Town says: "Apart from it being a lot of admin work arranging photos and getting more forms completed, is it a necessary exercise? In the last three years I haven't thought that there was a player ID problem in the league, nor has there been much, if any, protest regarding ineligible players. Is this a sledge hammer to crack a nut?"

Julie Logan of Honiton Town Youth, says: "I fail to see why ID cards are needed in mini soccer, especially when it appears that the long term aim of the FA is to make all mini soccer non-competitive.

Why cheat and play an older player in youth football? What are you achieving? But I know people do and so the plus side of this is that that practice will cease.

"Cards will inevitably become lost, after all with youth football one of the biggest problems is youngsters forgetting boots, or shin pads so what happens when an ID card is forgotten?

I foresee many disappointed children weekend after weekend and that begs the question, 'what we are here for, to enforce rules or to give the kids some football?' I know what I think we should be focusing on."

Nigel Doe, who will coach the Honiton Under-11s next season in the Exeter and District Youth League, says: "It strikes me that this may well bring greater problems to those who run football teams.

Imagine having to tell one or more youngsters that they cannot play because their ID card is not with them. In my case I will be holding all my side's cards as this is the advice we are being given, but what happens to those players, and there are plenty of them, who play for more than one team?

I can see in that scenario cards going missing or not being available when they are needed."

Ian Oldfield, at Heavitree Youth in Exeter, says: "We had many parents questioning who gets access to the information we are giving out about our young players.

Let's face it there's going to be an awful lot of ID cards floating around the young footballing population later this year.

"We can see the argument for the need to ensure people are playing in the right age groups, but is it really necessary to run the scheme down to the very youngest age groups? Are we so distrustful?"

By Stephen Birley

Youth football

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