balls and cones setup for grading
Photo by Travel Nomades on Unsplash


Sport helps children keep fit, develop skills, make friends and build resilience.

Youth sport should be enjoyable, safe, inclusive for children and maximise individual participation.

We hope that children playing at FC Five Dock will develop a lifelong engagement with sport and in particular develop a love of the game of football.

Player development (growth and learning)

Children do not develop if the level of challenge/competition is too low and too easy or if the level of challenge/competition is too high and too difficult.

Grading and selection processes are commonplace within sport. Football Australia (FA) recommends that children should be grouped based on age, abilities, interests and needs.

Therefore, it is our aim that every youth player at the club will train and play at a level that is most appropriate for her/his development needs.

Squad selection

The club and its appointed officials are responsible for assembling youth squads. To enter the district competition, the club must meet Football Canterbury’s squad size requirements for minimum and maximum number of players (see table below).

As our membership changes from year to year and children learn at different rates, grading is an ongoing evaluation to ensure every child at the club is receiving suitable opportunities while competition requirements are achieved.

Sport teaches lessons for life

The club believe that life skills and football skills should be developed together. We encourage a growth mindset and promote inclusivity.

Children have to learn social skills, just like they have to learn to read and write. Giving your child chances to play with other children is a great way for them to develop skills for getting on with others.

There are many stories of athletes who at one time or another didn’t make the team they tried out for but through life skills such as bravery, persistence and resilience, they still went on to achieve great success.

Please visit our Parent support page for lots of advice on supporting your children’s sporting journey.

Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

What is grading?

Watch a 60-second explainer

Grading is a process of playing assessment to identify the individual abilities and needs of every child and is necessary when assembling multiple squads in an age group.

Grading is the first of three steps in preparing squads for the season competition.

1. Player grading

The club assess the abilities/skill set of every child.

2. Squad selection

The club assemble squads with children of similar abilities/skill sets.

3. Squad/competition grading

The club liaise with the district association, Football Canterbury, to place the squad in a division, competing with squads from other clubs with similar abilities/skill sets.

FIVE grading goals: our football framework for decision making

Players (experience)

The goal is that all players, during training and at game day, experience competence, autonomy and connection that fosters enjoyment.

  • Competence: learning, improving, growing, and mastering different skills
  • Autonomy: control over ourselves and our choices
  • Connection: feeling that we’re important to others and others are important to us

Game experiences are more important than game results

Coach (training)

The goal is that the coach (often a parent and a volunteer) can more easily meet development needs at training because players have similar skill sets. Additionally, this may also prevent behavioural issues.

Squads (competition)

The goal is that development needs are delivered on game day as evenly matched teams of similar abilities compete against each other. Nobody benefits from blowouts (an easy or one-sided victory) and we look to minimise these occurring.

Club (membership)

The goal is that the club is able to provide local children with the opportunity to play at as many levels as possible of the community competition.

Football (pathways)

We also want to equip those motivated and ambitious individuals, with the skills required to play at higher levels should they wish to challenge themselves further.

Who is graded?

We conduct grading for age groups transitioning to a new game format who will require additional players to complete their squads. The increase in the number of players per squad often results in a decrease in the number of squads compared to the previous season.

It is compulsory for all children in the U8 and U10 age groups to be assessed.

Existing players must be registered to be graded and must be graded to be selected for a squad. Registration is important because, not only can the club effectively resource our grading events, but it especially means that the club can determine the number of squads it can assemble for the season (total number of registrations/required squad size).

Registrations close for U8 and U10 age groups after grading has been completed.

Squad sizes and game formats

AgeGame FormatSquad SizeAge Co ordinator
U53 v 3 or 4 v 46-8Mel
U63 v 3 or 4 v 46-8Mel
U73 v 3 or 4 v 46-8Mel
U87 v 79 - 10Mel
U97 v 79 - 10Sabrina
U109 v 911 - 12Sabrina
U119 v 911 - 12Frank
U129 v 911 - 12Frank
U13 - U1811 v 1114 -16Frank

Player numbers will be evenly distributed across the new squads. Where this is not possible, lower division squads will be allocated with larger numbers as their players may be borrowed by higher division squads (subject to competition rules).

What happens at grading?

Grading involves a series of skill tests plus in-game assessments. Children will be assessed by different coaches for each skill and all grading scores will remain confidential. The assessment covers the following four core skills, identified in the FA National Curriculum:

  • first touch
  • striking the ball
  • running with the ball
  • one versus one (attacking and defending)

Player history

Can my son/daughter play with their friends from last season?

The officials at FC Five Dock appreciate that, as parents, we make decisions based on the best interest of our children and family, however, Football clubs must make decisions based not only on the interests of the child but on balancing responsibilities including: the age group, the membership, the district and the sport.

Consequently, there will be times when the club are unable to meet the interests of a parent as it could conflict with our obligations as a football club and that often negatively impacts or unfairly prejudices other members.

There is a good chance that friends will be graded together as statistics tell us that 70% of children should be within a couple of grades of the average.

We have flexibility rules within which to consider player history (previous squad connections and friendships) however we aim to maintain the integrity of the grading process and avoid unfairly impacting the opportunities for other children and other squads.

No club official has the authority to make agreements or provide guarantees to parents and any decision to adjust squads is at the discretion of the club.

Player positions (U8 and U10)

Positional attributes or roles are not considered in the assembly of squads.

Who conducts grading?

The skill tests are facilitated by a group of independent and experienced coaches, selected and supported by the club. The club’s Technical and Coaching Director reviews the results before finalising the squads in DRIBL.

When is grading conducted?

Grading/player assessments are conducted in February. Dates will be announced on the club’s channels.

Where is grading hosted?

FC Five Dock host grading at our local grounds of Nield or Timbrell Park.

Other information

All correspondence regarding grading can be directed to FCFD’s Technical and Coaching Director.

By registering your child with FC Five Dock you are agreeing to this Grading Policy.

Updated Sep 2023