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Roots Soccer League

Serving Western MA

Roots Soccer League Serving Western MA

Rules of Competition


Note: The content below pertains to U9-U18 teams/players. 7U-8U teams are considered an 'in-house' program.

Article 1: Club Administration

Section 1: Declaring Teams: Clubs are obligated to submit a list of teams they wish to enter before each season. Clubs must provide accurate information by a deadline decided by the Leagues Executive Director (ED) and Competition Committee (CC).

Section 2: Team Registration Fees: The League fee must be paid by the deadline outlined at the start of the season, usually 30 days after invoicing. Any incomplete and/or late payments will result in a $25 fine p/day that the deadline is missed. Any fines collected will be donated to charity. [Edited 10/26/17]

Section 3:  Player/Coach Registrations: Each club is responsible for insuring all players and coaches are properly registered and pass card approved with our governing body - Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association (MYSA). Coaches are required to complete background checks and additional certifications - coaches should expect to set aside enough time to complete this process. It is the club's duty to ensure all coaches have completed all steps and have accreditation before they interact with their teams. Once teams have a complete roster they are required to submit that roster to the league for approval. [Edited 7/12/20]

Players/Coaches without a valid pass card will not be able to participate.

Section 4a: Coaching Licenses: The following licenses are recommended (see figure 1):

7U - 8U

9U - 10U 11U - 12U 13U+ Director of Coaching

No Pre-Requisite except background check

USC or USSF 7v7 Diploma/License
USC or USSF 9v9 Diploma/License USC or USSF 11v11 Diploma/License USC National Diploma or USSF 'C'

(Figure 1)

4b: Coaching Courses: Every possible opportunity will be given for coaches to gain the appropriate qualifications. The RSL will provide coaching courses at the Athletic Center either annually or bi-annually through MYSA (or other partners). Whenever possible the league will pay 100% of the costs for the coaches to attend, budget allowing.

Section 5a:  Child Protection: Clubs are obligated to ensure all adults, who may have the opportunity to have direct and unmonitored access to children, have a valid and approved CORI background check. Any associated cost of background checks will be covered by each individual organization or coach.  Clubs must also assure that all adults complete the required Child Protection training as defined by the League and/or Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association.

5b. Coach(es) Passes: All coaches (including 7U-8U coaches) must bring their MYSA staff pass to each league activity.

Section 6a: Uploading Field Availability: Each Club entering teams in RSL must have access to fields for league play. To the best of the Club's ability the fields should be, flat/level, grassed throughout [allowing for normal wear in goal areas] and are, on game days, equipped with regulation goal, nets and corner flags; mowed and fully lined in accordance with our guidelines. A copy of field information must be submitted to the league at the time of team registration, by the date established by the ED and CC in advance.

6b. Failure to have Field Available 1: If a Club's provided field is known to not be available by the deadline, games will be set to "TBA" for scheduling purposes, that Club may opt to have their nominated home game hosted scheduled as away game.

6c. Failure to have Field Available 2: If in the judgment of the referee a Club's provided field is improperly sized, lined and/or equipped for play on a scheduled game date, all reasonable attempts to play the game must be made assuming the field conditions are safe for competition.

The referee will submit a report to US Officials and the Leagues ED. The home club will be required to rectify the field by its next league match.  Teams from that Club may incur a point deduction as well as further sanctions approved by the ED and CC.

6d. Match Balls: Home team shall provide a regulation game ball as per specifications of the League (figure 3). The suitability of the ball is up to the judgment of the referee.

Section 7: Alcoholic Beverage Policy: Consumption of alcoholic beverages and open alcoholic beverage containers are not permitted at any game venue during league games. Game venue is defined as the playing field or fields, the sidelines and adjoining parking lots that service the fields. All member clubs are requested to assist with compliance to this policy.


Section 1:  Age Group Brackets: At the request of our membership - teams will select players based on a August 1st to July 31st bracket (see figure 2). This will enable the vast majority of players to play in the same team as the rest of their grade and will also make the transition from town soccer to High School soccer easier.  In an effort to assure players are able to play with their classmates, player age waivers may be presented for players born between February 1st through July 31st prior to the August 1st start date in any birth year period.  For example, a player born 7/27/10 and is in the 7th grade, may request an age waiver to allow the player to play in the 13U bracket with their classmates instead of being required to play up to 14U with players that are not in their grade [Added 1/22/24]  

(Figure 2)

Note: Outside Competitions/Tournaments: Teams wishing to compete in external tournaments should
note the rules of said tournament; the age grouping above may not be applicable
for non-Roots competitions/tournaments/leagues.

Section 2: Residency Rule: All players must register for a team within the city or town where they reside if an age appropriate team is available in that city or town. If a team has an out of town player on its roster, the team must notify, in advance, the specific details so the ED and CC can either approve or reject or modify the placement of that player.  The ED, CC or BoD may grant a waiver of this rule where the hometown releases the player and the waiver does not conflict with MYSA rules.  Waivers may be granted for:

1)   a player involved in divorce or custody circumstances,
2)   a school choice student playing for a team in the town where he or she attends school, or
3)   a player on a team affiliated with a church, temple or fraternal organization where the player is a member.

Section 3a: Pass Cards: Valid RSL/Mass Youth Soccer pass cards are required for all players and team officials during all League play.

3b. Availability at Games: Pass cards will be checked by a game official before each game. If either team fails to produce rosters and pass cards at the start of the game, they are to be requested by a game official to produce these by the end of the game. The referee will allow the game to proceed and to be completed. If these are not produced by the end of the game, the referee will submit a supplemental report via US Officials that no rosters and/or pass cards were produced. The ED and/or CC will determine the outcome of the game. Under no circumstances should the game be abandoned by the referee for failure of a team to produce a roster or pass cards.

Section 4a: Club Player Pass: A player cannot be permanently listed on more than one roster in the RSL. However a Club Player Pass may be granted if a Club Team experiences multiple absences and/or illnesses that - in the opinion of the ED and CC - is in the spirit of league play and is not done with the aim of gaining a competitive advantage. 

To Club Pass a player teams should write the players NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, JERSEY # and PLAYER ID # on their Team Roster and label the player as "GUEST". Said player must present a valid Player Pass to the referee at the start of the game.

4b: Eligible Players: Said players must be from the same club and either the same age group or younger. If a club has multiple teams in the same age group, the player can only move up from a lower division to a higher division team (i.e. a Division 2 player may pass card to a Division 1 team in the same age group, but a Division 1 player may not play down to a Division 2 team in the same age group).  If a Division 2 team needs players they cannot pull from the Division 1 team in the same age group as they must pull from the age group below. E.G.: a 12U Team playing Division 2 has insufficient players their coach may call up either a 12U player from the Division 3 Team or call up a 11U player to help.  Players within the 9U and 10U Divisions are not bound by these restrictions within those age groups and may pass card between Divisions within the same age group (i.e. a 9U player in the Blue Division may play for the Red Division of the same age group or a 10U White Division player may play on a 10U Blue Division Team).  For purposes of pass carding, a female player may pass card to a team in the Boy's Division based on these criteria, but male players may not pass card to a team in the girl's division even if the pass carding was based on these criteria. [Modified 2/28/22]

4c # of Players: Teams may bring in as many Club Pass Players as they wish as long as it does not exceed the maximum roster size for that age group (See Article 3, Section 1, Figure 3).  [Added 12/7/16]

4d Play-Off's: Teams are allowed to Club Pass during the play-off's, however, players may only play on one team during those play-offs regardless of age group. [Added 12/7/16]  [Removed effective 11/8/23]

Section 5: Co-Ed Teams: In the event that a team has a mixture of boys and girls on the roster, it shall be considered a boys team and be assigned in a boys' division.

Section 6: Heading: The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and MYSA are requiring all players across the country follow the new heading rules as follows: (1) Players 11U and younger shall not engage in heading, either in practice or in games. (2) Players 12U-13U are limited to a maximum of 30 min heading training p/week, with no more than 15-20 headers p/player p/week. Heading in games is unrestricted. (3) 14U+ heading is completely unrestricted.

If a 8U-11U player heads the ball deliberately in a game the referee may award an in-direct free kick to the opposing team. Accidental headers are not punishable. Whether a header is deliberate or not is, of course, is the referees discretion


Section 1: Basic League Overview (figure 3) [Edited 1/22/24]:

Age Groups

Game Time


Ball Size

 Min. Roster (as of 1/22/24)

Max. Roster

7U-8U (5v5)

15min Thirds

1 Referee




9U-10U (7v7) 25min Halves 1 Referee 4 514
11U-12U (9v9) 30min Halves 1 Referee 4 16
13U-14U (11v11) 35min Halves 3 Referees 5 21
15U-18U (11v11) 40min Halves 3 Referees 5 25

Section 2a:  League Point Scoring & Standings: Regular Season Standings are Calculated by [Edited 7/12/20]:

  1. Highest Total Points (3 for Win, 1 Tie, 0 Loss)
  2. Best Head-to-Head Record (Scores Count)
  3. Goal Difference (Goals For minus Goals Against)

Forfeits will count as a 3-0 final score.

2b: 8U-10U Scoring: 8U-10U games will be entered as 0-0 regardless of the actual result. Standing will be hidden completely. At the end of each season coaches can request a division report which will have the actual game scores and standings. This is to be used to aid coaches and towns in better placement of Division for their teams in the following season.

Section 3: Uniforms: All uniforms must be numbered. Duplicate numbers on any team are not permitted. In the event a player has an incorrect number the referee should include this information on their supplemental report.

It is the home team's first responsibility to change uniforms if a color conflict arises. Pinnies maybe used at the discretion of the referee.

Section 4a: Team Placement: 9U and 10U . Teams are placed in these sections at the request of the coaches/towns on the basis of their own assessment of that teams playing ability. In the event that a division is over requested, the ED, in consultation with the CC, will make a final judgement. Spring 11U teams are regrouped based on Fall results decided by the ED.

All higher age groups (12U+) will be determined purely by their results after each season. Promotion and relegation will occur after each season, individual league structure will determined by the ED based on the number of team entries and must be approved by the CC. New teams, or team missing a season, must enter at the lowest level.

4b: Right to Appeal:  In certain special cases teams may wish to appeal their placement, at that point they can appeal to the CC for a ruling.

Article 4: Referee's & Laws of the Game

Unless stated below all rules and game laws are in line with the FIFA laws of the game

Section 1a: Duties: Referees will provide necessary judgments, enforcement of rules, safety protocols and game conduct as it applies to players, coaches and spectators. Referees will ensure safe and playable field conditions as well as player kits and equipment before the start of games. Referees are solely responsible for time clock management, approving team rosters / player passes, and overseeing safe play within the guidelines of the Laws of the Game.

All incidents such as red cards or other ejections involving misconduct of any kind will be included in a supplemental report via Stack Officials.

1b: Authority: Referees are the sole judge for the length of each half (or thirds for U6-U8), as well as the final judge for the play-ability of fields and equipment. A referee may suspend or disqualify a player from participation if he/she deems equipment or player kit to be unsafe or unplayable. Referees have authority under their own discretion to suspend a player, coach or spectator from the field of play for violation of conduct rules. As well as suspend or terminate a game due to elements of weather or misconduct by players, coaches or spectators deemed unsafe and in violation of conduct rules.

Referees will not have the authority to rule a win, loss or tie in the event of a suspended game; this will be reviewed and ruled on by the ED and/or CC.

1c: Roster Check-In's: Coaches will provide two official RSL rosters before the start of each game. Referee will keep one copy and giv ethe opposition coach the other. Referees are responsible for matching submitted rosters with players photos and shirt numbers. Team coaches should display a valid MYSA ID card throughout the game, no coach ID card will result in coach being asked to move to spectator sideline. Any discrepancies should be reported to the league by the referee via Stack Sports.

1d: Score Reporting: Referee's are required to report game scores for all game. These must be done online via Stack Sports. Only "center" referees complete game reports.

1e: Referee No-Show: Referees should arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the start of games. If a referee is late or absent it is the responsibility of the opposing coaches to agree on a substitute official.

Coaches are encouraged to make every effort to play games as scheduled. Any referee absences should be reported to the League.

Section 2: Substitutions: Substitutions will follow FIFA rules which states that players can be subbed at any stoppage in the game including, but not limited to, free kicks, corners and opposition stoppage.  All substitutions must have the permission of the referee.

Article 5: Competition Committee

Section 1:  Competition Committee: The Competition Committee shall be a standing Committee of the corporation to review and propose the rules of competition of the League.  The Chair and Vice Chair of the Competition Committee shall be appointed from amongst its current affiliates.  Every Affiliated Club shall appoint one delegate to the Competition Committee. The Competition Committee, by a majority vote of the delegates, shall develop recommendations and proposed amendments with respect to the rules of competition of the League. 

Section 2: Voting: The voting rights of an Affiliated League shall be determined based upon the numbers of FALL teams registered with Roots Soccer League (U9 and above):   [Edited 12/7/16]

# of Teams

# of Votes

1-5 Fall Teams

1 Vote

6-14 Fall Teams 2 Votes
15+ Fall Teams 3 Votes

Section 3: Standing Terms: Each Chair shall serve for a term of two years, Chairs may not serve for consecutive terms, however the term may be extended until a successor has been elected.  Terms shall be staggered so the Chair and Vice Chair end their term in any one year.

Section 4:  The Chair and Vice Chair: The Chair and Vice Chair of the Competition Committee shall appointed to the Board of Directors as full voting Board Members. It is their duty to present the minutes from the CC on motions that require a BoD vote.

Section 5: Executive Director: The Executive Director is an officer of the Board of Directors. The Competition Committee may however vote on whether to remove the ED from their position and submit that recommendation to the Board of Directors.

Section 6: Data Protection: The collection of any RSL related data including; players names, email address, phone numbers etc, will only be used for internal activities associated with Roots, partners of Roots and MYSA (governing body). Absolutely no third party (including Premier Soccer Organizations) will be allowed to use RSL data for solicitation of any kind.


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Westfield, Massachusetts 01085

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