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REC SOCCER 411

Greater Cleveland Athletic Association provides a positive recreational soccer experience for children aged 3 to 17. We strive to maintain a balance between teaching soccer skills, citizenship, sportsmanship, and healthy competition. We have minimum participation rules in all leagues to ensure that all players, no matter their skill level, become an integral part of the team. We offer soccer in the spring and in the fall. Our U04, U05-U06 and U07-U08 leagues are coed. Boys and girls are in separate leagues in our U10 and up leagues. Some teams may be coed if an insufficient number of players sign up to make all-girl teams. Shin guards are required in all leagues. Metal cleats and shoes with toe-cleats (baseball style) are not allowed.


GCAA is a member of the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association. We joined this organization to further enhance the soccer experience of our participants. The most significant enhancement is the adoption of the small-sided games rules. These enchantments include rule changes, new field sizes, limits on number of players on the field, and age eligibility categories. The primary focus of our Rec Soccer program is "player development". Our goal is for each player to become the best player that they can be. We try to teach them to compare their performances to their own previous performances rather than to other players. We encourage all children to participate in all aspects of the game.

Each Soccer Year consists of two seasons, Fall and Spring, in that order—like a traditional calendar year for most public-school districts. Teams created in the Fall season are typically kept together for the Spring season. New registrants for the Spring seasons are typically assigned to teams to fill in open roster spots.


Age group assignments for each Fall season is based on the player's age from January 1st to December 31st of the following year. Considering the Fall season, for example: if your child will be under the age of 4 come January 1st, then he or she will be able to participate in the U4 division for the current Fall and following Spring seasons. Even if your child turns 5 on January 2nd, he or she is under the age of 4 on January 1st, which is the division determination date. On the other hand, even if your child is under the age of 4 prior to and throughout the entire Fall season, if his or her 4th birthdate falls on or before January 1st of the following year, he or she is determined to be too old for the U4 division for that Fall season.


The same criteria are considered when determining what age division your child is eligible to play for the Spring season. Even though your child may turn 5 on January 2nd or prior to the completion of the Spring season, your child is still eligible to play in the U4 division for that Spring season.


** Uniform fee is assessed in the Fall season each year, OR if you are a new player in the Spring season. Returning players, in the Spring season are not assessed a uniform fee, unless a new uniform is desired OR you make a request that results in your child’s team assignment having to be changed.


Small-Sided Games (borrowed from NCYSA "Recreation Handbook")


The Basics of 3v3/4v4

The priority in 3v3/4v4 is to motivate youngsters in an enjoyable environment that is conducive to learning. The more pleasure kids derive from their participation the more they wish to play and practice on their own. While the instinct to play is natural, their affection and appreciation for soccer must be cultivated.


The 3v3/4v4 game develops:

  • The mental, physical, and social characteristics representative of these age groups.

  • Players frequently touching the one toy (the ball) on the field.

  • Opportunities for players to score goals.

  • Player possession of the ball as a productive and rewarding part of the game.

  • Active participation minimizes inactivity and boredom.

  • The philosophy of player development expressed in state and national coaching schools.

  • The game to be the teacher.

Why No Goalkeeper?

Goalkeeping, as it relates to the adult version of soccer, requires a combination of motor skills, athletic talent and decision-making. A goalkeeper is not utilized in the 3v3/4v4 game because:

  • Goalkeepers must be field players first. Prior to specializing as goalkeepers, children must learn the broad parameters of "play". This is difficult to do when they hide beneath the crossbar and between the posts.

  • Goalkeepers must possess field-playing skill. This is particularly true since the laws governing the 11-a-side game have been changed to prohibit the goalkeeper from using handling skills to receive balls passed by teammates.

  • Psychological maturity is necessary in order to function as a goalkeeper.

  • The peripheral vision and hand eye coordination at these ages is usually not developed to the point necessary to effectively play goalkeeper.

Why 3v3/4v4?

Teaching soccer to children requires that the information provided to them be appropriate for their maturity level through some means (THE GAME) that makes sense to them. The environment for play must, essentially, meet the needs of the player. Reducing the number of players to 4 (or 3) per team allows for all the components of the game of soccer:

  • The ball

  • Teammates & opponents

  • Realistic pressure

  • Appropriate pressure

  • Modified Rules

  • Direction of play (attacking & defending)

  • The combination of length and width in the game

What is developed?

  • Skill that is realistic in relationship to the game of soccer

  • Motor ability: balance, agility, and coordination

  • Perception: insight and awareness

  • Vision

  • Problem solving: choices and decisions

  • Physical fitness

  • Psychological domain: fun and enjoyable

  • Learning by discovering, trial and error: playing!

U10-U17 Soccer Leagues - 1 weekly practice and 1 Saturday game.

Highlights of U10 - U17

  • Boy and Girls on separate teams (single sex teams)

  • Focus on Player Development, with introduction of healthy and friendly competition

  • Paid non-partial referees for games

  • Some travel may be required for some games

  • Separate uniform fee (not included in Registration Fee)

  • Uniform typically includes shirt, shorts, and socks

U10 Soccer League: These players are generally beginning to understand soccer and are becoming more skilled in dribbling, passing, and shooting. The field is larger and position play becomes even more important. Typically girls and boys are placed on separate teams. The maximum roster size for each team is 13 players, if possible we try to make the teams smaller to ensure more playing time for each player. If we do not have a sufficient number of teams then some games may require short travel to play teams in other parts of Johnston and southern Wake county. Games are played 7 v 7 (6 field players and 1 goalie), on a field size of about 40 yards x 55 yards with goals 18 feet x 6 feet. Our focus is still on player development, sportsmanship, and teamwork. While we do start to introduce the concept of competition, scores and official standings are not kept. Each game will have a non-partial paid referee. The soccer uniform consists of a jersey, shorts and socks. The uniform fee is a separate and additional charge from the registration fee and is handled at the time of registration. Each player must purchase a uniform for each soccer year. If the player registers in the Fall and returns to the same team in the Spring, then a new uniform purchase is not required (although you may purchase another if you wish). If the player is a new player in the Spring, then a uniform purchase is required at the time of registration. The player's first registration of each "soccer year" does require a uniform purchase. All kids are required to wear shin guards. Soccer cleats are optional (but strongly suggested)... however, no metal cleats or cleats that have toe-cleats (like baseball cleats) are allowed. Players will use a size 4 soccer ball.

U12 Soccer League: These players generally understand soccer and are becoming very skilled in dribbling, passing, and shooting and game tactics. The field is larger and position play is very important. Player conditioning also starts to become important. Typically girls and boys are placed on separate teams. The maximum roster size for each team is 15 players, if possible we try to make the teams smaller to ensure more playing time for each player. If we do not have a sufficient number of teams then some games may require short travel to play teams in other parts of Johnston and southern Wake county. Games are played 9 v 9 (8 field players and 1 goalie), on a field size of about 50 yards x 75 yards with goals 18 feet x 6 feet. Our focus is still on player development, sportsmanship, and teamwork. However, we continue with our introduction of healthy competition. Scores and official standings are not kept. Each game will have non-partial paid referees. The soccer uniform consists of a jersey, shorts and socks. The uniform fee is a separate and additional charge from the registration fee and is handled at the time of registration. Each player must purchase a uniform for each soccer year. If the player registers in the Fall and returns to the same team in the Spring then a new uniform purchase is not required (although you may purchase another if you wish). If the player is a new player in the Spring, then a uniform purchase is required at the time of registration. The player's first registration of each "soccer year" requires a uniform purchase. All kids are required to wear shin guards. Soccer cleats are optional (but strongly suggested)... however, no metal cleats or cleats that have toe-cleats (like baseball cleats) are allowed. Players will use a size 4 soccer ball.

U14 Soccer League: (See Special Note about U14 Girls below.) These leagues are only opened when enough players register. The registration for these leagues are typically waitlist only. Once it is determined there are enough players to create a team then all those on the waitlist will be contacted via email to complete the registration. These leagues are listed as coed, but could be converted to an all boys team or all girls team depending on level of interest. These players play on our largest field. This league continues to help improve the conditioning, positioning and skill of the players. Depending on the number of players teams may be created via a draft day, a blind draft, or random assignments. These age groups are for the high school age player that wants to continue in recreational soccer for the social and fitness benefits. Normally each team will have a roster size of up to 18 players. Teams normally play 11v11, including a goalie. Some games require short travel to play teams in other parts of Johnston and southern Wake county. Each game will have non-partial paid referees. The soccer uniform consists of a jersey, shorts and socks. The uniform fee is a separate and additional charge from the registration fee and is handled at the time of registration. Each player must purchase a uniform for each soccer year. If the player registers in the Fall and returns to the same team in the Spring then a new uniform purchase is not required (although you may purchase another if you wish). If the player is a new player in the Spring, then a uniform purchase is required at the time of registration. The player's first registration of each "soccer year" requires a uniform purchase. All kids are required to wear shin guards. Soccer cleats are optional (but strongly suggested)... however, no metal cleats or cleats that have toe-cleats (like baseball cleats) are allowed. Players will use a size 5 soccer ball.


U14 Girls Special Note: For the last several seasons we have offered girls only teams in U10 and U12. With the continued success of these leagues we are excited to announce that beginning in Fall 2010 we began to offer a U15 Girls League. Normally U13 and above teams begin to play on regulation sized fields and use regulation size goals and play 11 per side. However, due to expected limited participation in the first few seasons, we will play using slightly modified rules. We will essentially use the U12 game rules with a few minor changes. The basic rules will be as follows:

  • Teams will play 9 v 9. (8 field players and 1 goalie. Just like U12)

  • Roster sizes will be limited to 15 players.

  • Teams will play on a U12 sized field using U12 sized goals.

  • Team will use a size 5 ball. (Different from U12; U12 uses a size 4.)

  • Games will be played with two 40 or 45 minute halves. (Game lengths may vary depending on available field space at the various clubs.)

This league will open as a waitlist only league. Once a coach is found and once enough players are registered to start a team, players on the waitlist will be accepted (in the order they registered) for open spots on a team. We will create as many teams as we can based on number of coaches who volunteer and players that register. Players not accepted onto a U14 Girls team will be offered available roster spots on our U14 Coed teams. Eventually, as the interest grows, we will move this league to play using true U14 rules (larger field and 11 v 11).

U17 Soccer League (For players born in 2003-2005): We will open up this division on a WAITLIST only until we see if we generate enough players to form a team. IF we do (and HOPEFULLY we do), we will then release all players and you may checkout :) Please tell your friends to sign up because the more players we get, the better chances we have of forming U17 teams! This is brand new for our association as well as surrounding athletic clubs and we have a passion for kids to play as long as they possibly can. Help us get the word out so we can continue to grow soccer in this area for the sake of our amazing kids!

Our goal is for each team to have a roster size of up to 10 players and to play games of 7v7 on a U12 size field, including a goalie. Some games require short travel to play teams in other parts of Johnston and southern Wake county. Each game will have non-partial paid referees. The soccer uniform consists of a jersey, shorts and socks and are included in the Fall registration fee. If the player registers in the Fall and returns to the same team in the Spring then a new uniform purchase is not required (although you may purchase another if you wish). If the player is a new player in the Spring, then a uniform purchase is required at the time of registration. All kids are required to wear shin guards. Soccer cleats are optional (but strongly suggested)... however, no metal cleats or cleats that have toe-cleats (like baseball cleats) are allowed. Players will use a size 5 soccer ball.


The GCAA also sponsors Challenge and Classic Soccer teams to offer our players a higher level of competition. You can email travelsoccer@gcaasports.org to find out more information.


If you have questions about our Rec Soccer Program? Email us at soccer@gcaasports.org.

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