Parents Told To Be Silent At Their Childrens' Football Matches
Before a word is written, you can almost feel the righteous anger of parents across Britain.
"We work hard all week, putting food on our table, paying our taxes, and now you're telling us we can't hurl horrific abuse at little kids on a Sunday morning?! It's political correctness gone absolutely bonkers."
Yes, that's right - parents have been told not to cheer, yell at or indeed hector their offspring while they're playing football. What, not even a little bit of yelling?
But while being forbidden from cheering on your child may sound ridiculous, all is not as it seems. The ban is in place as part of a 'silent weekend' initiative, organised by Hampshire FA, which aims "to raise awareness of the need to create a positive and pressure-free environment in which children can enjoy football and learn to love and develop in the game."
Coaches are also expected to remain silent during the game as part of the initiative and have been given a list of 'dos and don'ts'. The event is taking place this weekend in matches from under 10s up to under 16s.
A spokesman for Hampshire FA said: "Together with the youth and mini soccer committee, we are encouraging clubs and leagues to participate in the Silent Weekend.
"We hope this will encourage all to take part and spread awareness of this fantastic initiative."
Inevitably, the idea has been widely branded as ludicrous by those who have misinterpreted the initiative as a permanent ban on any form of cheering. But Portsmouth-based referee, Blair Gissing, said such schemes could help reduce verbal abuse.
He said: "Only the once have I seen parents getting violent but it was a very serious incident, when a parent punched a linesman.
"I gave a foul against one of the players and the next thing I knew the mums on the sideline started shouting abuse at me and then some of the dads got involved.
"One of them assaulted my assistant referee and the kids on the pitch were stunned. It was only an under 12s game.
"I think anything to get better control among parents can only be a good idea. Although acts of physical violence are reasonably rare, verbal abuse is pretty common."
Whether or not the 'Silent Weekend' helps to improve the behaviour of parents at youth football games, it is undeniably sad that such a step has been taken. Football should be a passionate endeavour for players and spectators, and shouts of encouragement from the sideline improve the game for all. Unfortunately, the inappropriate shouts of a few have resulted in initiatives like the ones this weekend.
Perhaps instead Hampshire FA should distribute a handy pamphlet, outlining acceptable and unacceptable heckles:
- "Well done that was brilliant!" - Acceptable
- "This is a great game, I don't care that we're losing, this is really enjoyable!" - Acceptable
- "C'mon little 'un, keep going." - Acceptable
- "Pass! PASS!" - Acceptable
- "How the FUUUCK did you miss that you fucking useless little fucking fuckhead?!?!"
Featured Image Credit: birgl (Creative Commons)