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Shhhhh...parents support ‘silent football’ weekend

Spirit of Youth Under 10s taking part in Lancashire FA's weekend of silence to stop shouting from the sidelines.  Spirit of Youth Under 10s v Bispham Vipers Under 10s at Common Edge, Blackpool

Andy Faller, 41, of Staining

Spirit of Youth Under 10s taking part in Lancashire FA's weekend of silence to stop shouting from the sidelines. Spirit of Youth Under 10s v Bispham Vipers Under 10s at Common Edge, Blackpool Andy Faller, 41, of Staining

It’s a cold and blustery Saturday and your son or daughter’s junior football team is losing at home...

When another pass goes astray, every impulse in your body is desperate to scream something from the sidelines.

Blame someone – the referee, the coach? After all, time is running out for your child to be spotted by Premier League scouts.

Except you’re not allowed – not this past weekend at least – after the powers that be decided enough is enough and children under the age of 12-years-old should be given the chance to play football without the pressures of parents trying to coach their children from the sidelines.

Lancashire Football Association’s Silence Weekend was trialled at all junior games across the county amid concerns the level of abuse aimed at young players and referees is stunting their development.

Blackpool’s Common Edge pitches sees grassroots football over both Saturday and Sunday.

The pitches are home to the Spirit of Youth club and the sidelines were packed with parents and coaches finding themselves unable to say anything.

It was a welcome change of pace for some parents who have grown accustomed to hearing foul language during their youngsters’ weekly matches.

Simon and Susan Shearer were watching their son Benjamin, 10, play for Bispham Vipers against Spirit of Youth Under-10s in a nine-a-side game with shortened pitches.

Mr Shearer said: “We have heard more than our fair share of inappropriate language on the sidelines and this makes a pleasant change.

“We’ve seen quite a bit of abuse aimed at officials, which is a bit unsavoury.”

Mrs Shearer added: “It’s very damaging for children’s self-esteem and it becomes a parent’s game instead of the children’s.

“We would be happy with this every week.

“You can see children being affected by it without a doubt.”

Dad Chris Hauber, 43, of Wynnwood Avenue, Blackpool, added: “It’s been an excellent idea and all of the parents have observed it quite well.

“It’s not generally that bad at this age but you do get 
parents shouting at the ref 
for a bad decision and if there’s a challenge they don’t like 
they shout at him to do something.

“I’ve shouted at my son on the odd occasion and on the way home he has said ‘I wish you wouldn’t do that Dad’ because you have to give them the freedom to enjoy it.”

Parent Andy Faller, 41, of Staining, added: “You see a lot of passionate parents and it’s the same with the coaches, but there shouldn’t be a blanket ban because this has gone from one extreme to the other.

Spirit of Youth coach Andy Sharrock, said: “My son seems to be happy I can’t talk!

“There are coaches with different ideas and we want to get them across, but this doesn’t seem to be affecting the game, it’s just eerily quiet.”

Those on the field say they would happily keep their mums and dads quiet every week because the silence did not give anyone a chance to knock their confidence.

Spirit of Youth player Jack Snee, 11, said: “I thought it was better because we can work better as a team.

“It’s better to get on with the game and find out at half time what we need to be doing.”

Teammate Matthew Singleton, 10, added: “It was better because sometimes people can say ‘go there’ and another one says go somewhere else and you get confused.

“If they are shouting it makes you feel disheartened and your head goes down.”

Bradley Sharrock, 10, said the silence gave the players a chance to think about their errors. He added: “It was better because we can learn from our mistakes and we do what we think instead of the coaches telling us.”

 

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