New Annual 11-Aside format for NSSL U15 & U17 AAA

New Annual 11-Aside format for NSSL U15 & U17 AAA




To: Members

From: Brad Lawlor, Executive Director

New Annual 11-Aside format for NSSL U15 & U17 AAA 

For a number of years U15 AND U17 AAA clubs, coaches, parents and players have expressed a number of concerns with 7-aside soccer during the indoor (winter) season:

  • 7-aside doesn’t effectively service U15/U17 athletes
  • Limited and/or constrained player, coach, and referee development
  • Inconsistent or oversized roster sizes
  • Player Retention
  • No rest for players (jump from season to season)
  • Not enough 11-aside games annually to properly develop athletes 
  • The current format does not meet the standards within Canada Soccer’s Player Development Program (PDP)

Taking all of this into consideration and looking very closely at the development of the athlete, we are pleased to announce that we will be moving to an annual 11-aside league for U15 AND U17 AAA teams beginning in January 2020. 

Key Information:

  • Operational documentation for participating clubs to be released in August 2019.
  • Wrap up of outdoor season at the end of September 2019 and transition to annual 11-aside league in January 2020.
  • For our first year (2019), there will be a break from the end of the outdoor season (September) and the start of the new 11-aside (January). No soccer will be scheduled during this time to allow participation in school soccer.
  • 11-aside season starts mid-March (indoor) and runs through to the end of October.
  • Approximately4 indoor games will take place in March and April.
  • Approximately 22 outdoor games will take place from May to October. A total of 26 games played
  • The Provincial Cup competition will run concurrently with the 11-aside outdoor season to determine Club Nationals Representative

Benefits of new league format:

  • Periodized program (deliberate practice, game & rest ratios)
  • Provincial standards-based league 
  • A 40/50% increase of 11-aside games annually
  • Consistent game days
  • Mandatory rest periods
  • Better development opportunities for players, coaches and referees
  • Better retention (less drop out due to inconsistent rosters)
  • More indoor training opportunities for AA, A, B and mini-programs 
  • The new format is aligned with Canada Soccer’s PDP 


1. What is PDP?        

Canada Soccer is developing a Player Development Program (PDP) to provide guidance to     Provincial/Territorial soccer organizations in implementing, organizing and managing the player development program in their province. The philosophy of the Canada PDP is based on improving the quality and volume of training while providing more meaningful competition for the players using performance periodization. Our annual 11-aside season along with grandfathering the required PDP standards will bridge the gap in preparation for Canada Soccer’s Player Development Program. 

2.    How will communities without full indoor facilities participate? Practice is

recommended to commence in January with league games starting indoors in March &

April. Clubs with no access to full field facilities will play games away from home during this


3. What will my child do from October to December? It will be a standard of the league

that all players receive two months of rest from organized soccer. In those instances where

a player has transitioned from a AA program after the summer season, they will be allowed

to start training in December within the club they are registered for. Example, integrate

them into existing training programs or set up training for a select group of players for a


4. Can we play U15AA during the indoor season and transition to the outdoor league

when it ends? Clubs will be able to move players to the AAA program if decided that is in

the best interest of the player. However, the player must sit out of two months of

programming including training to obtain the required rest period. Example: Player ends their

AA season in the middle of March. They will not be able to participate on the AAA team until the middle of May. Any player being added to the AAA roster must be submitted and 

approved by the league. 

5. What happens if the club recognizes that my child is in the wrong program and they

want to move him in December? If the player is being added to the AAA roster, this again

must be submitted and approved by the league and followed by meeting the two month

standard break.  

6. What happens if the player does not follow the minimum rest period or has not

submitted the required paperwork to be added to the AAA roster? They will not be

eligible to participate in this competition for the duration of this season and the club will be


7. Can our team participate in the winter senior league and also participate in the annual 11-aside 

league? No, the entire squad will be ineligible to participate in the competition. 

8. Can a U17AAA player be called up to play winter senior soccer? Provided that the

player has observed the 2 month rest period, players may be called up for their senior

team. If a player is called up without observing the rest period the player will not be eligible

to participate in this competition for the duration of this season and the club will be

sanctioned. Example: A player finishes their season in October, and observes the rest

period in Nov & Dec, they are eligible to be called up for senior soccer games in January.

9. Will this program be more expensive with it being 11-aside all season? After a financial

review and the significant reduction in the use of indoor facilities, the cost of the program is

close to identical to the existing two-season program. Note - This does not include the

financial structure of each individual club. 

10. Will clubs be required to train on a half a full-field from January to April? No, clubs are

encouraged to use gyms during January & February for pre-season purposes. They will be

required to access more appropriate facilities in March, once the regular indoor season has

        finished, and facilities become more accessible

11. How will my child be able to participate in school soccer? In the inaugural season, the

requirements of practice frequency is reduced during the school soccer season, and games

will be scheduled on weekends, to assist with conflict and allow players to participate in

school soccer. 

12. Can we play for any club in the province? At this stage policy indicates players must play

within their district. 

13. Why are we changing the existing structure? Canada Soccer are releasing a Player

Development Program (PDP) coast to coast, which is an accredited standards based

competition. These changes are to align ourselves with this program. Furthermore, at the

age of U15 & U17, we want our AAA athletes to play in a consistent environment where they are

playing 11-aside competition year round to assist with their development and

understanding of the game. U13 and U15 AA teams will be eligible to register for an 11-Aside Friday Night Cup during the 7-Aside season. 

14. Why are the U13AA & U15AA divisions not going all year round? This decision was

made, with a combination of reasons. Players who typically participate in these age groups

are still at a development stage where we encourage the participation of experiencing

multiple sports. 

15. Can any club enter this competition? Any club can participate but the standard to

participate in the competition, requires a club to be participating in Canada Soccer Club

Licence PTSO Level 1 & meet the grandfathered standards of Canada Soccer’s PDP as

outlined by Soccer Nova Scotia.  

16.  Who is participating in year one?

        All existing U15/U17AAA teams including PEI are eligible for 2020.


Unanimously supported by Development Committee, supported by Canada Soccer, approved by NSSL, supported by the Referee committee.

This was presented to other operational committees as per decision making process

Secondary meeting with existing AAA/AA Clubs took place