Representative Football


Representative football encompasses both District and County football opportunities, with a team being formed via player selection from schools within the Association boundaries. We recommend that if teachers aren’t already aware of the nomination process for talented players, to contact us for more information in order to help support these opportunities.

District football is offered by Associations from the Under 10 age group (Year 5) through to Under 15 (Year 9 & 10) – although the traditional age groups are Under 11, 13 & 15 so as to fit within National competition pathways offered.

County football aims to build on the opportunities provided at District level and support talented players through the next stage of their development. Almost all County football is played between the Under 14 and the Under 18 age groups, with players able to play across two year age bands.

The combination of both representative programmes aims to provide high quality playing experiences throughout the majority of a young person’s school career, developing them physically and mentally, alongside their educational goals. Schools’ football is the only form of youth football where both ‘academy’/RTC and non-academy players can play together, providing a fantastic platform from which to develop individual ability.

Talent Pathway

Representative football is an opportunity offered to talented players across the country to participate in local, regional and national competition. Activity is offered for both Boys and Girls comprised of league, cup and tournament/festival formats, feeding into the ESFA talent pathway.

ESFA Champions Cup

Champions’ Cup Review – Season 21/22

A consultation period is currently taking place to plan for the future of the Champions’ Cup and the future of the ESFA’s representative football. You can view the County Consultation, held on Wednesday 23 February 2022, below. The District Consultation was held on Wednesday 2 March and this can also be viewed below:

County Consultation (Champions Cup)
District Consultation (Champions Cup)

Getting Involved

If you’re not already involved with your local County Schools’ FA, you can use our portal to find the closest one to you and find contact details for the secretary there. Simply follow this link.

You can also find lots of useful information for County and District Associations including funding and sponsorship ideas under our ‘For Associations‘ tab on the website.

If you’re not sure where to start, or who you need to speak to locally, then you can always contact the ESFA office by email and one of our members of staff will be able to advise you further.

Representative Football – Guidance on Eligibility Criteria

ESFA regulations:

  1. Players must be in full time education at a DfE registered institution to be eligible to represent their District, County or Country.
  2. A player shall be eligible for selection for the County Schools’ FA in which they attend school.
  3. A player shall be eligible for selection for the District Schools’ FA in which they attend school.

To support members to determine eligibility for selection post-16, where the education sector is more complex, this document has been prepared and can be found below.

ESFA policy guidance:

  1. Those who play for an Academy or RTC shall be eligible for selection nationally. Member County and District Associations have the discretion to determine whether such players are eligible for County or District selection.
  2. For those receiving attending a Pupil Referral Unit, eligibility to play for a District or County shall be determined by the location of the school/unit in which they are primarily registered, unless the pupil has been prohibited from playing football as part of the terms of his/her exclusion, in which case such pupils would not be eligible for selection. PRU-educated pupils able to play for their District/County Association are eligible for national selection.
  3. Those who are home educated shall be eligible to play for the District/County in which they reside, unless they are registered with a school for exams, in which case the school’s locality shall define eligibility. Players eligible to play for their County are eligible for national selection.

Members are reminded that eligibility to play international football is governed by FIFA and as such, eligibility is defined by the calendar year of the player’s birth:  those eligible should be U15/U18 on 1st January in the calendar year in which the competitive fixtures take place.

Post 16 Rep Football Eligibility