SOCCER NOVA SCOTIA (SNS) has adopted a 9 v 9 playing model for the U13AA Nova Scotia Soccer League (NSSL) this summer.
The move was confirmed earlier this month and Cape Breton FC's Girls and Boys squads will now play in the new format when their league action kicks off on May 4.
A statement from the SNS Technical Department reads:
"Soccer Nova Scotia, in alignment with Canada Soccer, is pleased to announce a significant change to the U13AA game format for the upcoming summer 2024 season.
"The U13AA regular season games will now be played in a 9v9 format on a modified 11-a-side pitch.
"The field dimensions will be adjusted to developmentally appropriate measurements of 70-75m x 50-55m, accompanied by age-appropriate goals sized at 6.5 x 18 ft. This transition aligns us with other provinces, such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and PEI, that have already successfully implemented the U13AA 9v9 format.
"Notably, both Alberta and Ontario have initiated pilot initiatives with plans to transition in the future. We are excited about this change and believe it will significantly benefit our young athletes.
"By adopting this format, players will experience more touches, increased 1v1 situations, and more opportunities for decision-making. It's important to recognize that many players at this age and stage of development may not be physically prepared for the demands of an 11-a-side field.
"The shift to 9v9 ensures that we no longer solely reward early-maturing players by providing them additional space to utilize their physical advantages over their peers/opponents.
"For the upcoming summer 2024 season, U13AA teams will be permitted to participate in 11v11 events, showcases, and tournaments. We appreciate your support in facilitating this positive change for our youth."
Soccer Cape Breton's Regional Director of Soccer Development Iain King said: "This is a move that for me makes technical sense and it is one that I welcome and applaud.
"The concern was always to see 9 v 9 implemented correctly on fields with the correct dimensions and with the mandated use of the correct goals.
"Evidence-based research supports the idea of gradual staging from small-sided games to 7 v 7 and 9 v 9 to the 11 v 11 game and the big field for our younger players and I look forward to seeing the U13s enjoying the new format."
* OUR picture shows the Cape Breton U13AA Girls after one of their NSSL wins last season. The girls reached the Final Four in their debut Tier One season last summer and many remain at 13s to tackle the new 9 v 9 format this time around.