|Levels of Competitive Soccer|
The terms associated with competitive club soccer can be overwhelming especially you or your family are new to the fold. Below, you will find a basic primer of those terms.
Once a player moves to a soccer club, their level of play is dictated by their age and the skill level of their team. You will see teams denoted by the players' birth year and/or their age shown, for example, as U10 to designate "Under 10 years old" at the start of that calendar year. Players may be able to play in an older age level if their skill level, the size of a roster, and the coaches' opinions warrant it. However for teams in the NC Youth Soccer Association (NCYSA) players may not "play down" or play with younger athletes. Clubs not associated with NCYSA, playing down IS permitted which is why you may hear stories of "really big" athletes on the field.
Academy (U9 – U10) – For the Fall 2023 season, this would include players born in 2014-2016 birth years. Academy soccer is the entry point to most club soccer associations and works well for players ready to make the jump from recreational soccer to a more challenging level. Games are played 7 v 7. Game results are not emphasized at this level; rather the development of players is the driving factor. At SGCSA, this is the period team units develop and players learn to improve ball skills and positioning at game speed. Our season is year-round comprised of fall and spring seasons that roughly match the school semesters. Tryouts for our Academy occur each May for the following season beginning in August.
Classic Division 3 (Formerly Challenge or Select) (U11 – U12) – For the Fall 2023 season, this would includes players born in 2012 and 2013. Challenge and Select teams from years past may be playing at this level. This level is typically for players at U11 and U12 and serves as a bridge between academy and classic. At this age, teams move to a 9 v 9 format. Games are played within Gaston County, Charlotte, and the surrounding areas. At SGCSA, we continue to work on fundamental soccer, game speed comfort in moving the ball around the pitch, and positioning as we begin to prepare to move to the big pitch. This season remains year-round comprised of fall and spring seasons that roughly match the school semesters.
Classic Divisions 1 & 2 (U13-U18) – The majority of our Strikers play at the Classic levels 1 & 2 within leagues determined by NCYSA to maintain fair, leveled matches between SGCSA and our competitors. Teams move to the big pitch and play 11 v 11 matches. We play in Classic leagues in Western North Carolina which includes clubs in Charlotte and west. For teams to play in the 1st division or premier level, they must be promoted based on their standing similar to European soccer leagues. We have a long history of our oldest teams reaching Premier (statewide) level of play having been promoted beyond first division. At U13 & U14 (this year 2010 & 2011 birthdates) teams continue to play a fall and spring season. At U15 (this year 2009 birthdates), girls begin to play club soccer only in the fall and boys only in the spring so that athletes are able to participate in the middle and high school sports seasons. In order to maintain conditioning and chemistry, some teams may elect to attend tournaments in the opposite season.