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Annual 11-aside AAA Season Confirmed for 2020

Soccer Nova Scotia will be releasing an annual 11-aside AAA season starting in January 2020. This is phase one of working towards a nationally recognized Canada Soccer ‘Player Development Program’ performance league. Soccer Nova Scotia’s Talent Development Manager, Matt Holton outlines the importance:

“Players pursuing AAA soccer are striving for environments that demand excellence, it will give those players more opportunity to experience the real format of the game, allowing them a greater opportunity to learn and understand positional and tactical nuances of the game that the 7-aside game doesn’t allow.”

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
  • Current format does not meet the standards within Canada Soccer’s Player DevelopmentProgram (PDP)


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-asideleague 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 duringthis time to allow participation in school soccer.
  • 11-aside season starts mid-March (indoor) and runs through to end of October.
  • Approximately 4 indoor games will take place in March and April.
  • Approximately 22 outdoor games will take place May to October. A total of 26 games played
  • The Provincial Cup competition will run concurrently with the 11-aside outdoor season todetermine 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
  • 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 time.
  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 setup training for a select group of players for a month.
  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 inthe 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 sanctioned.
  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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. Can we play for any club in the province? At this stage policy indicates players must play within their district.
  5. 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 andunderstanding 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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