It’s been an interesting week for sport with top level internationals in cricket and soccer in the spotlight for the wrong reasons – and youth soccer was in the spotlight with BBC Radio 5Live doing a debate on parents and touchline aggression.
Former Premier League star now media darling Robbie Savage came up with a list of ways youth soccer would benefit in the face of aggressive behaviour on the touchline after witnessing a game in a youth league. He put forward his ideas and the debate worked around that.
Lots of great ideas came out of it and the main points are:
1. Safeguarding officers
Part-funded by the FA, part-funded by councils and part-funded by an extra 50p or £1-a-week in playing subs, there should be a welfare or safeguarding officer at every youth level game.
There is already a designated welfare officer at every club. Let’s have one delegated to monitor EVERY game.
They will have the power to show parents whose verbals are excessive – in a negative way – yellow cards as a warning to curb their aggression.
After a caution, those parents have a choice: to pipe down and wind their necks in, or risk being shamed in public.
2. Sin bins
From under-12 level upwards – in other words, for players of secondary school age –introduce 10-minute sin bins like they have in rugby.
When kids are growing up, they need to learn discipline and the consequences of misbehaviour.
How about sin bins to cool off for bad tackles, offensive gestures, answering back to referees and dissent involving foul language?
3. Shorter games with kicking rules
Up to under-13s create games of 20 minutes each way, with the first half played with no balls allowed over head height except from corners or free-kicks. That would stop games becoming a contest to see who can kick it furthest.
4. Don’t let goalkeepers kick from their hands
Until they play 11-a-side on full-size pitches – this places more emphasis on playing the ball out from the back, and defenders would become more comfortable on the ball.
Keepers with the power and physique to kick the ball huge distances will develop that skill naturally as they go through puberty as teenagers.
5. Mums and dads on the other touchline
As a coach or manager, what is the world coming to when you can’t mix with other mums and dads on the touchline on a Sunday morning?
But, sadly, it would be best to have parents supporting their teams on one side of the pitch and all coaches, managers and their substitutes on the other.
That would limit the scope for arguments.
Some good ideas here and there were more – as we all know the list is endless.
I know that most coaches of teams have children who play soccer for other teams as well as children who play for their own teams, and I have had this conversation on many occasions. “What do you do when you see a coach doing the wrong thing on match day? Do you confront him at the time it happens or do you intervene?”
I find that when I am watching either of my sons playing matches and I am not the coach I try as much as possible to keep in the back ground. The coaches often ask if I want to do the half time talk and I decline much as I would love to be involved I also enjoy watching matches without the responsibility of the whole team of players.
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