Arlington Soccer Decision to Modify Participation of Travel Players in Rec Soccer

What are the changes to the rules for Travel players to participate in the Rec Soccer Program?

The new rules limit Travel players to 4th grade and below in Rec. Starting in 5th grade, Travel players will no longer be able to participate on a Travel team and a Rec team.

What were the previous rules that applied to Travel players participating in the Rec Soccer Program?

Through the Spring 2019 season, the Rec Program has allowed Travel players to participate at all levels of Rec, from first grade up. The number of Travel players per team is limited at each level, from one player per team at first grade, through five players per team at High School.

How many players will be impacted?

Of the 7,600 players in Rec and Travel, 239 players play both Rec and Travel at 5th grade and above (101 girls and 138 boys). These players will be directly impacted. Other players may be indirectly impacted due to the loss of team members and potentially coaches.

Why are rule changes being adopted?

The rule change proposes to address three main issues:

  • Travel players participating on a Rec team can change team dynamics, and/or result in unevenly matched games, impacting the experience and development of the Rec players.
  • Travel players have a rigorous practice and game schedule. Combining Rec and Travel games can impede peak performance at competitive Travel games.
  • The change would bring our rules into conformity with other local Rec programs. This would allow complete Rec teams to participate in more local tournaments and encourage other clubs to join the ART Rec tournament, once our Select player policies are aligned.

Why is 5th grade and up the age range to limit travel player participation in the Rec Soccer Program?

The change is a compromise between the staff recommendation that Travel players only participate in Travel activities, and the players' desire to continue playing with their school-mates. At 5th grade, Rec teams move from playing 7v7 to 9v9. We can introduce the change while minimizing the impact on the viability of existing neighborhood Rec teams.

Does this apply to only those playing Arlington Travel Soccer?

No. The rule applies to all players participating in a travel program in any local club.

When will the changes be implemented?

The changes will take place in the Fall 2019 season.

Will any Travel players be “grandfathered” and allowed to continue past the 5th grade?

No. No current players will be allowed to participate in both programs after the 5th grade. Grandfathering in all players would have resulted in an eight-year transition period, which would not address the issues that led to the change (see above) in a timely manner. Grandfathering in some age groups but not others was considered but rejected as an inconsistent application of the rule.

What was the process that resulted in this rule change?

For the past decade, the Rec Program Committee[1] has discussed the challenges and benefits of having Travel players in Rec soccer. Throughout this time, the Committee discussed and implemented changes to address some of these challenges, adjusting the number of Travel players allowed on Rec teams, providing coach training, sportsmanship campaigns, etc. Challenges persisted. Throughout the fall of 2018, the Committee conducted a far-ranging discussion over several months. At the October 2018 Rec Committee meeting, the current rule change was adopted as a recommendation to Arlington Soccer staff.

The recommendation was sent to the Arlington Soccer Senior Staff (the Executive Director and heads of Finance, Operations, Travel, Rec, and AUX programs). After intensive discussion of the recommendation's potential impact on each program and the organization as a whole, Senior Staff unanimously supported the recommendation.

The Travel Committee was next consulted. First, the head of the Travel Committee met with the Rec Committee to better understand the history and potential impacts of the recommendation. Supportive, he then took that information to the Travel Committee, which also agreed with the recommendation.

The Joint Program Committee, which includes staff and volunteers from all programs, was also consulted and also supported the decision.

The Arlington Soccer Board discussed the recommendation for two months before voting to approve it. After the vote, the Board solicited feedback from the Arlington Soccer community to ensure it had considered all perspectives on the change. Feedback received included perspectives that were against the change as well as supportive of the change. The Board returned the issue to the Rec Committee, for further review and consideration of the feedback. The Rec Committee reviewed the feedback and determined that the perspectives were considered and incorporated in the original decision The Rec Committee recommended that the Board make no change to its decision. The Board agreed.

[1] The Rec Program Committee is one of the two Program Committees created under the Arlington Soccer By-Laws. It includes volunteer representatives of the twelve neighborhood clubs, plus the High School club. Each club has one or more volunteer Club Managers. Club Managers form Rec teams, place players, recruit and support volunteer coaches, and meet monthly to guide the Arlington Rec Soccer Program. Managers are usually long-term coaches, parents and other members of the community, volunteering to support soccer throughout Arlington. The other Program Committee is the Travel Committee.