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Eligibility for NWFL lowered from 17 to 16 years old.

The British American Football Association (BAFA) has lowered the eligibility age for the National Women’s Football League (NWFL) following consultation with clubs, the BAFA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee and the NWFL. Eligibility has been adjusted from 17 to 16 years old.

This adjustment will allow young female athletes the opportunity to choose their pathway by either competing in the U19s mixed gender format, or in the women’s adult contact league – the NWFL.

BAFA is taking forward a comprehensive strategy to grow and develop the women’s game, and a review of the female participation pathway is currently being undertaken as part of this. Whilst this review will cover many elements, one area of the pathway identified as a potential barrier for young females continuing in the sport is the transition from youth/junior football to adult football. BAFA hopes the decision to lower the eligibility age for the NWFL will help to combat this.

Simon Browning, BAFA Interim Women’s Football Commission Lead, said:

“As a competition, it is vital that we have an appropriate and fit for purpose female participation pathway to ensure that young talent does not get lost within the transition from youth to adult football. Whilst this is a small step in what will be a full strategic review of the pathway, it is an important one as we look to increase participation in the NWFL, and strive to be Europe’s leading women’s American football league.”

Phoebe Schecter, Chair of the BAFA Equality, Diversity, & Inclusion Committee, said:

“As we continue to grow British American football, it’s so important that we provide everyone with a clear pathway to play the version of the game that reflects where they feel most comfortable and enables individual growth.

“This small change to the eligibility age will create a massive difference to help encourage more young female athletes to continue playing the sport, helping to drive further uptake in women’s British American football.”

Pete Ackerley, BAFA Chief Executive, said:

“I’m delighted that we are able to make these changes as part of our long-term ambition to professionalise the game and inspire more people to play. These small but important changes are part of our ongoing commitment to ensure we are player-focussed with our drive to grow and develop the sport.”


The safeguarding of young athletes remains of paramount importance for our sport, therefore this adjustment will be piloted and reviewed regularly over the next two seasons to ensure that we continuously have the most appropriate and safe pathway for our young athletes.  All current safeguarding requirements and measures must be in place for clubs wishing to have 16 or 17 year olds within their team. For more information, please visit our Safeguarding page.

Image @ Edinburgh Wolves