Clarification Regarding Age Categories for 2023-24 Season

The following Communication was sent to all Member National Associations from the FISTF Board.
We are publishing it here in the interest of communication with all players and clubs.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Chères Mesdames et Messieurs,
Dear Members,
Chères Membres,
The purpose of this communication is to clarify how the Under 20, Under 16 and Under 12 age categories will be applied in season 2023-24, commencing 1 September 2023. The need for this clarification has arisen in the last few days following some updates to the FISTF website and Facebook page which caused some confusion and concern amongst some MNAs and clubs.
Age Category Definitions for Season 2023-24
The definitions as set out in section 2.6.2 of the FISTF Official Handbook dated 15 August 2023 and published on the FISTF website will apply as written.
They are as follows:
2.6.2 Definitions
For the season 2023-2024, the categories will be as follows:
(a) Open; all players of any gender and age
(b) Veterans: players born before September 1st, 1973;
(c) Under-20: players born on or after September 1st, 2003;
(d) Under-16: players born on or after September 1st, 2007;
(e) Under-12: players born on or after September 1st, 2011;
(f) Women: female players only, of any age.
In its extensive updates to the Handbook for this season, the Board inadvertently overlooked the decision made by members at the 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in December last year to change the age category definitions.
Resolution 5, which was approved by a two-thirds majority of members, was “I agree that players competing in “Under categories” (U20, U16 and U12) must be under that age for the entirety of the season”.
This resolution was put forward to address the issue that many players playing in “under” categories were in fact not under the age limit for much of the season. For example, someone could turn 20 years of age on 2 September, yet play in the “under” 20 category for almost the entire season.
This change was not introduced for the 2023 season (which has run from 1 January to 31 August 2023) because the final voting for the AGM was only completed in late December 2022. It was considered to be too late to introduce it so close to the start of the season.

The intention was to introduce this change for the 2023-24 season. Unfortunately, as noted above, the resolution/members’ decision was overlooked in the updates to the Handbook. Over the last couple of days, we discovered our error and had sought to correct it by applying the age categories in accordance with the members’ decision last year under Resolution 5.
However, we are now faced with a similar situation to last year, with just one week before the new season starts.
Several clubs have expressed strong concern over the past few days regarding the late implementation of this decision and its effects on their arrangements for the coming season.
The Board has therefore decided to further delay the implementation of Resolution 5 and to retain the current age definitions for the 2023-24 season.
This means, for example, that a player who wishes to play in the U20 category will be able to do so even if they turn 20 years of age during the 2023-24 season, as in previous years.
For members’ information, the Board is also currently reviewing the possible impact of the 2022 resolution/decision, if implemented, on the development of our game and on numbers in the junior categories.
We will report back on this issue at the 2023 AGM before seeking members’ views and, if necessary, a further decision on age category definitions.
The Board would like to apologise for its oversight and the ensuing lack of clarity, but we seek MNAs’ understanding and cooperation in moving forward as we work together to improve our sport.

Finally, please be reminded that as decided at the 2022 AGM, from 1 September 2023, the minimum age for the Veterans category will increase from 45 to 50 (players born before 1 September 1973) and that points previously accumulated in the Veterans category will not be transferred to the Open category for affected players.

With kindest regards FISTF Board