Junior Football in Cairns and Districts


Optus Small-Sided Football is modified forms of 11-a-side football, structured to suitably address the needs of young players, who have different developmental characteristics and needs to adult players.

The philosophy of SSF focuses on enjoyment and freedom of expression with limited emphasis on coaching per se, particular in the formative years of a player’s development. They benefit children by making their early contact with the game more enjoyable while simultaneously providing an environment that will facilitate greater skill development.

The basis of SSF is that participants, playing on smaller fields and with small numbers, interact with the ball on more occasions and are required to make less complicated tactical decisions. The result for participants is more fun (more successful interactions) and better skill/technique development.


The rationale for the initiative is primarily based on experiences in numerous countries overseas and is broadly based on the following criteria:

  • 11-a-side football is in essence an adult game devised by and for adults to play
  • more fun and individual enjoyment due to smaller fields and simplified rules
  • more playing time, which maximizes individual participation and involvement
  • far more repeated touches of the ball by all players on the field
  • more shots on goal
  • more involvement leads to greater improvement in fitness.
Other benefits not directly linked with the development of players with better technical skills include:
  • SSF is aimed at players of all abilities, not simply the more talented in each age group.
  • With the emphasis on participation and enjoyment, and an associate removal of the current emphasis on the importance of winning, children are much more likely to enjoy their football playing experience, will be keen to play more often and are less likely to drop out of the game.
  • SSF makes more efficient use of facilities, given that there can be multiple games on one standard-size field.
  • Parents who are new to the game are likely to be more comfortable playing the role of “game leader” of teams playing SSF. Given that children at this ages do not need to be “coached” as such, these adults don’t need to have a great technical understanding of the game leading to the search for volunteers for these roles becoming significantly easier.

Playing Philosophy

  • All players should get an equal amount of playing time.
  • Three-goal margin rule: When the difference in score between the two teams reaches three or more goals at any point during the match the losing team is allowed to restart from the middle line when a goal is scored against them instead of from their own back line – Under 8 years of age and below.
  • When an individual player is completely dominating the game and has already scored three goals and their team is winning by a three-goal margin, he/she can only score another goal when one of their team-mates has scored a goal.
  • This is to encourage good players to include other members of their team and to force them to create opportunities for others. If the particular player scores a fourth goal before any of his/her team-mates has scored and the goal margin is three of more goals, the goal does not count and play is restarted with a goal kick/dribble.
  • Once a player has been allocated to a team of five players on game day, he/she cannot be transferred across to the other field to help out a losing team, unless a player on the other field is unable to continue due to an injury and not transferring the player would result in a team being one player short.
  • Directly after each Under 6,7,8 match each player is allowed to take a “penalty” from the 8m spot. First, all players of the A-team and second, all players of the B-team take their penalty kicks (free shot from 8m spot – no goalkeeper).
  • It is advised by FFA to use the breaks to make some internal changes to the team when one team is far too strong and leading with more than three or four goals. e.g. start the second half again with a blank score, so there might be two winners that day. The same option is open to start a “new match” every 10 minutes (even more fun for the children).

Yorkeys Hornets

Yorkeys IGA, Yorkeys Football Club Sponsor

Small-Sided Football

SSF For Parents
  Under 6 & 7 laws  
  Under 8 & 9 laws  
  Under 10 & 11 laws  
SSF Game Leader
Instructing Referee

The Small-Sided Game

Playing FormatUnder 6 & 7Under 8 & 9Under 10 & 11
Numbers4 v 45 v 57 v 7
Field SizeLength: 30m
Width: 20m
¼ Full Size Pitch
Length: 40m - 50m
Width: 30m - 40m
½ Full Size Pitch
Length: 60m - 70m
Width: 40m - 50m
Field MarkingsMarkers or
painted line markings
Markers or
painted line markings
Markers or
painted line markings
Penalty AreaNil5m depth x 12m width5m depth x 12m width
Goal SizeWidth: 1.5m – 2.0m
Height: 0.9m x 1.0m
Width: 2.5m - 3.0m
Height: 1.8m - 2.0m
Width: 4.5m - 5.0m
Height: 1.8m - 2.0m
Goal TypeMarkers, Poles, GoalsMarkers, Poles, GoalsMarkers, Poles, Goals
Ball SizeSize 3Size 3Size 4
PlayingTime 2 x 15 minutes2 x 20 minutes2 x 25 minutes
Half Time Break5 minutes5 minutes7.5 minutes
RefereeGame LeaderInstructing RefereeInstructing Referee

Small-Sided Football

SSF For Parents
  Under 6 & 7 laws  
  Under 8 & 9 laws  
  Under 10 & 11 laws  
SSF Game Leader
Instructing Referee

The Small-Sided Game
Game Leader

The game leader must use common sense to ensure that the game flows as much as possible. He/she must assist players in getting the game moving quickly. He or she should try to encourage as many players as possible to get involved. The idea is that the game leader is not punishing players but “instructing” them and helping them to enjoy the game all of the time. Most fouls and hand balls at this level are committed through lack of coordination. There is rarely intent. Try to give advantage to the attacking team when you can. Be fair to both sides.

Re-start from the back line (Under 6, 7, 8)

The experiences we have seen and feedback received has resulted in the following advice in regards to the restart of play from the back line after a goal has been scored and a goal kick is taken. All defenders should go back to the halfway line and on the instruction of your coach or game leader play can be re-started with the ball kicked, passed or dribbled back into play. This will encourage the team restarting play to keep the ball and give them a greater chance to get out of their own half of the field. It is important this message is communicated to all team coaches, managers and game leaders. This will be officially addressed in SSF print resources for the 2009 season.

Warm-up The following are recommended:
  • Before the match starts the “coach-parent” will have to do a short warm-up. This can be done by starting with a small-sided game or position game between the members of the team (3 v 3, 4 v 3, 5 v 2).
  • Put the players in a circle of 10m and let them dribble the ball to a team-mate and take his/her position. Later, pass the ball and take his/her position, or the coach stands in the middle and passes the ball to a player and receives it back and the player runs around the circle until he/she is back in his/her own position etc.

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