Junior Football in Cairns and Districts

Laws of Small-Sided Football Under 8 & 9

  • The field of play
    Length: 40m - 50m / Width: 30m - 40m
    ¼ full size pitch – when converting a full size pitch into Optus Small Sided Football fields
  • Goal size
    Width: 2.5m - 3.0m / Height: 1.8m - 2.0m
    Note: For the Under 8 and 9 age groups, it is recommended that clubs that wish to and have the capacity to do so use 3m x 2m goals. Should a club not be able to do this in the first instance, the 5m x 2m goal is most acceptable for use on fields for the Under 8 and 9 age groups as well as the Under 10 and 11 age groups.
  • Penalty area
    Rectangular – 5m depth x 12m width
    The penalty area can be marked through use of marked lines, flat or soft markers or cones.
  • Markings
    Markers or painted line markings.
  • The ball
    Size 3
  • The number of players
    7 v 7 – inc. goalkeeper
    Maximum of three substitutes who may rotate during the entire game. The coach or parent is allowed to make the substitutions while the ball is in play, but must wait until the substituted player has left the field.
  • Goalkeeper
    The goalkeeper is allowed to handle the ball anywhere in the penalty area. To restart play after a save or gathering the ball with their hands, the goalkeeper is not allowed to kick or drop kick the ball directly from their hands. The ball must be thrown or rolled from the hands or played from the ground with their feet, within 6 seconds. Opponents must be at least 5m outside the penalty area and cannot move inside the penalty area until the ball is in play. The ball is in play once it moves out of the penalty area.
  • Duration of the game
    2 x 20 minutes (Half time break 5 minutes)
  • Instructing Referee
    The main role of the instructing referee is to control the game to ensure it is played fluently and instruct and correct the players (with minimal blowing of the whistle) on how to behave and what the rules are, e.g. what a foul is, what a free kick is and how to throw in etc... Should these indiscretions happen a second time the referee should stop the game and apply the appropriate action and decisions.
    This person can be a club official, capable parent, older child or player, beginning or official referee from the federation or association. Most Importantly - Remember the children are learning the game – be flexible and patient.
  • Start of play or restart after goal
    Pass forward to a team mate from the middle of the half way line. All players must be in their own half of the field of play. Opponents must be at least 5m away from the ball until it is in play. The ball must touch a team mate before a goal can be scored.
  • Ball in and out of play
    The ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or the touch line on the ground or in the air, or when play has been stopped by the Instructing Referee.
  • Ball crossing the touch line
    Throw-in: Player faces the field of play, has part of each foot on the ground either on or behind the touch line, uses both hands and delivers the ball from behind and over his or her head. The thrower must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player. Opponents must be at least 5m away from the ball until it is in play. The ball is in play once it enters the field of play. A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw in.
  • Ball crossing the goal line after touching defending team last
    Corner kick. A player from the attacking team places the ball inside the corner arc nearest to the point where the ball crossed the line. Opponents must be at least 5m away from the ball until it is in play. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves. A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick.
  • Ball crossing the goal line after touching attacking team last
    Goal kick from anywhere within the penalty area. Opponents remain at least 5m outside the penalty area until the ball is in play. The ball is in play once it is kicked directly out of the penalty area.
  • Offside
    No offside.
    Note: In the Under 8 – 11 age groups, team coaches and managers should strongly discourage children from permanently standing in blatant offside positions. Instructing referees should direct players permanently standing in blatant offside positions to move into onside positions.
  • Method of scoring
    A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar. When goal posts are not available and cones are used for goals, a goal is scored when the ball passes between the cones without touching them, below shoulder height of the player.
  • Fouls and misconduct
    Indirect free kicks are awarded for all acts of handball or fouls and misconduct. Opponents must be at least 5m away from the ball when the indirect free kick is taken. (An indirect free kick is where a goal can be scored only if the ball subsequently touches another player before it enters the goal).
    For deliberate or serious acts of handball or fouls and misconduct in the penalty area, a penalty kick is awarded from an 8m penalty mark with only a goalkeeper in position. All other players must be outside the penalty area and be at least 5m behind the penalty mark.
    Fouls and misconduct are:
    • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
    • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
    • jumps at an opponent
    • charges an opponent
    • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
    • pushes an opponent
    • tackles from behind to gain possession of the ball
    • making contact before touching the ball
    • holds an opponent
    • spits at an opponent
    • handles the ball deliberately
    • plays in a dangerous manner
    • impedes the progress of a player
  • Point’s tables and finals
    To ensure that Optus Small Sided Football is played in the correct spirit and give all players the best possible chance to develop, FFA advises that Member Federations, zones, associations and clubs adopt and promote the following advice and recommendation:
    • Under 8 & 9:
      FFA advises that the keeping of point’s tables and playing of finals must not be done.


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