Age Groups and Divisions info

Important changes about divisions and age groups – please read further for a detailed explanation.
At the ECU Board Meeting in Athens in July 2022, the decision was made to adopt the ICU age groups starting from 2023 for the Europeans. We would like to give you some background information that you can share with your clubs, coaches, athletes and maybe even parents to make them understand the motivation behind this decision.

In 2019, the International Cheer Union (ICU) revisited the age groups worldwide in order to look for a way forward to unify them. The main elements that guided the ICU Technical Committee when reforming the age grid were age rules for Olympic summer sports, the Youth Olympic Games, ages in cheerleading for international levels, safeguard standards (the age difference between athletes on a team should normally not be more than four years) and prospects for young athletes.
In 2019, the International Cheer Union made the following changes to the age ranges by a vote of the ICU General Assembly:Senior – this age group was matched with the standards of the International Olympic Committee, meaning athletes older than 16 years.Junior – following the age ranges of Youth Olympic games, which is internationally set at 15 to 18 years, the existing age group of Junior was changed to match this age range. Youth – in order to allow athletes between 12 and 15 years to continue to compete on an international level, the new age group of Youth was introduced for ICU World Championships.
ECU has traditionally been in synch with the ICU rules, and therefore always had the intention of adopting those age groups for European Championships as well.The ECU Competition Committee originally prepared a proposal for the federations to vote on – with the choice to adopt the ICU age groups right away or with a transitional phase in 2023 and 2024 to allow athletes to phase into the new age ranges.
However, it became clear in the days leading up to the AGM in Athens that many countries had already switched their national rules to match the ICU age groups, especially having Junior teams in age span from 15 to 18 for the upcoming season. The problem now arose that if the ECU AGM had adopted a transitional phase, it would have been necessary to cut off the older age ranges for safeguard reasons (as stated above, the age difference between athletes on a team should normally not be more than four years). This would have put countries at a major disadvantage that had already made the switch to the official ICU age groups.

The decision was therefore made to adopt the ICU age groups as they are for the year 2023 onwards.
For the new Youth division, countries will be able to freely choose to send teams to either the Median or Advanced Division. In order to allow a more flexible approach for the use of athletes, the decision was also made to synchronize with ICU rules regarding cross-overs: cross-overs to other age groups will now be allowed, as long as eligibility requirements are met.
For the ECL teams, the introduction of the new Youth divisions and the change of the age range for Junior Divisions also requires a special transitional rule: as an exception for 2023, the winning teams from the Junior team divisions will be allowed to make a choice between competing in the respective Youth or Junior Division.
For your reference, you will find all age groups and respective Divisions as well as the basic rules about sending teams for the European Championships here.