By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
August 31, 2011-Soccer players in youth leagues up to and including theUnder-12 age group play with a size 4 ball. As the kids become teenagers, Under-13 games and older use a size 5 ball.
Yet the average girl does not grow to be nearly as tall or weigh as much as the average boy so is using a size 5 ball appropriate for girl’s and women’s games? That’s what a group in Denmark pondered and in 2008, the Danish Football Association gave permission to experiment with a size 4.5 ball (26.37" circumference) in Girls-Under-18 and women’s games.
Now that experiment has come to these shores as the Westchester Youth Soccer League (WYSL) of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association has been experimenting with a size 4.5 ball, dubbed the Sensational Soccer Ball, for girls players who have been using the 4 ball as they are graduating to the 5 ball as Under-13 players. A WYSL player originally from Denmark and living in Edgemont went back to Denmark, found out about the Sensational Soccer Ball and brought one back. The WYSL eventually purchased 300 balls.
"We had a Girls-Under-13 scrimmage game between the ODP team and the WYSL Select Team," commented WYSL President Julian DiDonato. "The game was a different game using the 4.5 ball. The game sped up and the ball was kicked further. It was girls soccer on steroids."
"But we asked the players after the scrimmage how they felt about the ball and most hated it as it felt different than playing with the 5 ball to them.So rather than taking a 5 ball away from players, we decided to experiment in practices and friendly games with the 4.5 ball as girls go from the 4 ball to the 5 ball," continued Mr. DiDonato.
In a small survey of 30 female soccer players conducted by the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany, the poll found that 80% of those surveyed fund the Sensational Soccer Ball to be better to the Jabulani, the ball used in the 2010 men’s World Cup in South Africa. Only 17% found the Sensational Soccer Ball to be "a bit worse" and nobody found it "worse" or "much worse."
47% felt like better soccer players when using the Sensational Soccer Ball, 33% did not know and 20% disagreed. 66% thought it was more fun to play with the Sensational Soccer Ball, 27% did not know and only 7% disagreed. 60% wanted to continue using the Sensational Soccer Ball, 33% did not know and 7% wanted to go back to the Jabulani.
There is a question if the Sensational Soccer Ball can cut down on the rash of knee injuries of teenage girls and women soccer players.
"There are probably a multitude of reasons why girls have issues with meniscus tears and torn ACLs," Mr. DiDonato added. "Many knee injuries have occurred toward the end of soccer games, when players are fatigued. Could kicking a soccer ball heavier than what is meant for the female body be contributing to these injuries?"
With 120,000 youth soccer players and more than 25,000 volunteers, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 12 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered--from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/
, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.