The aim of this policy is to assist players and their parents to understand Skerries Town FC’s (“STFC” or the “Club”) process of placing players into a team that best suits their level of ability.  It is the Club’s policy to grade players every year to ensure that all players have the opportunity to progress. This policy only applies to competitive age groups, U12 upwards. In accordance with League and FAI guidance, U11 and below will not be graded.

The Club encourages players and parents not to focus on which team a player is selected in, but rather, on the player’s own development during the season. It is also important that parents are supportive of their children during the grading process.

STFC is a community club and will always try to facilitate as many players as possible to play for the Club. However, if a team has the maximum number of players and there is no possibility of another team being formed, the Club may not be able to register a player.

The following table summarises the current arrangements for each age group.  The maximum squad sizes are recommended by the FAI in their ‘Player Development Plan’.  The Club’s policy is to adhere to these recommended squad sizes to enable players to get the playing time recommended in the Plan.      Any exceptions to these squad sizes will require approval by the Club Committee.

Age group      Team size      Format       Minimum squad size      Maximum squad size    Referee         League tables

U8 - U9            5 a side            Twin                       12                                   12                             No                        No

U10 - U11        7 a side          Normal                       9                                   12                            Yes                        No

U12                  9 a side         Normal                      11                                   12                            Yes                       Yes

U13 - U18       11 a side        Normal                      14                                   16                            Yes                       Yes


Why grade players?

There are some advantages in not grading players, such as maintaining friendships and family social groups, however, this can soon become an issue, in several ways:

Peer pressure – Teammates will often let their feelings be known in regards another player’s ability. This can often do more damage than any ill feelings resulting from the grading itself.

Exodus of talented players – Players of above average skills and their parents will often become frustrated and eventually leave for another club that does grade their players in the hope their child is put into a stronger team. The player’s development will also stagnate because they are not being challenged to improve.

Reduced enjoyment – Players who play in a grade significantly above their skill level will often feel left out as the more skilful players take control of games. Often this can result in the less skilful player leaving football to join another sport.

Confidence – If a player is playing in a high grade, but of lower ability, they may not have the confidence to do some aspects of the game. On the other hand a player of similar ability on a lower grade team, may actually do a lot more and may even be overly confident in their ability thus hindering the progression of other players on the team. A switch of these players then allows both players to be challenged at a level where they are confident, comfortable and happy.               

In summary therefore, to not grade the children based on ability would take away the opportunity for some to progress and to participate at the highest possible level at a later stage.

Player grading process

Age groups U12 and above play competition games with published league tables, therefore all players U12 and above should, where possible, play in a team for their age and in a division best suited to their ability.  League competitions for U12 to U18 (in NDSL) are graded as Premier, A, B, C, D etc. and players will be graded accordingly.

Teams will be selected based on the players skill, attitude and attendance at training.  From U12 onwards, playing position will also be a factor in grading.  For example, the ten most skilled players may not necessarily be selected in the same team if they are all strikers or all goalkeepers.

The following are the main guidelines for team selection and player grading (and re-grading):

  • Grading involves selecting a balanced team with the best ability from the pool of players in any age group.
  • All players will be graded and players will be assigned to teams based on their ability and experience.
  • Grading will be conducted, in the first instance, by the team coach(s) as they will know the existing players best.  All coaches should assess their players continuously to ensure they are playing at the correct level.  Coaches from the same age group should meet ideally at least twice per season to discuss potential movements between teams.  The first meeting should take place before the season starts, with a second mid-season.
  • The coaches in any age group must act for the benefit of all players in that age group and not just for the members of their team.
  • On an annual basis, a formal team grading process should take place, whereby all players (new and returning) from the same age group train together before the season starts.  These formal sessions will be overseen by a Committee member (Grading Assessor).  Coaches will be asked for the input, but the Grading Assessor will have the final decision on team selections.  Parents may also be consulted if deemed appropriate by the Grading Assessor.
  • Grading should be conducted early during pre-season so as to give teams and coaches the maximum amount of time to work together before the season starts.
  • If at the start of the season there are excess players in an age group or there is no appointed coach, players will be advised ASAP so as to provide them with the best opportunity to register at another club.
  • Coaches always have the right to request that their children are allocated to the team they are coaching.
  • Where there are players of similar ability and limited age group vacancies, preference will be given to returning players.
  • Players may be asked to move up or down grades within an age group due to a player’s level of ability or to cover for absent or injured players in other grades, any such movements will be at the advice of the player’s coach in consultation with their parents.
  • Once grading is complete and teams selected, a player cannot change teams without approval from the Committee.
  • Once assigned to a team, players will train with their respective team and coach.
  • Ideally, all teams in an age group will train at the same time to allow interaction between teams as the coaches deem fit. However, this is not always possible as training times are dependent on the schedules of each individual coach.  
  • All players should play in their own age group unless there is a valid reason for playing in an older group (see section on “Playing above your age group”).
  • Players who have not paid fees, owe fees from prior seasons, or not registered will not be eligible for team selection.


Grading Appeals Process

Parents and players are able to appeal a grading decision they feel is unfair or inappropriate by:


  • Making a submission in writing to the Grading Assessor requesting a review of the players grading, outlining why they think the grading is not correct.
  • If the Grading Assessor refuses to conduct another grading exercise or reconfirms the original grading, then the player or parent may then make a written submission to the Club Chairman, outlining why they think the grading is not correct.
  • The Chairman will consider this submission in consultation with the Committee and will then make a decision on whether or not to change the player’s grading.
  • The Committee’s decision will be final.



Playing above your age group

It is important that children are constantly challenged or they will get bored. Therefore it is our club policy that if a player has the ability the club may move them from one age level to another after consultation with the child’s parent. Players that will be considered for playing above their age group are those deemed by the coaches to be highly skilled / talented. To be considered, players need to be playing comfortably in the highest level at the club for their age group and demonstrate that they can cope with the demands of the higher age group, both physically and mentally. Decisions are made based on what is best for the player’s development.