Dear members and wider football community,
You may or may not have read recent articles about the silent sidelines program that the club is trailing with its members. This program can already be seen in football leagues across the UK and North America. A version of the program has also been included in the FFA's Respect Campaign (page 5).
The main reason for running the trial program is to provide an environment that allows both young players and referees to learn the game. The program's main focus is not on rowdy members or removal of members from the club or field. We have only trialled this program twice this year with our in-house competition from under 6 to under 8s and it has been received very well. For that, we wish to thank the members who have been fantastic supporters of the program.
The main idea of the program is to:
- Encourage kids to communicate, take chances and be the decision makers using the skills they have learnt training, rather than been fearful of making mistakes.
- Allow coaches to communicate with kids before the game and at half time with a single message, rather than conflicting advice from many.
- Allow referees to make mistakes. The kids referring are not professionals and for the most part, volunteers. In the older age groups the sport is having great troubles attracting referees and without referees we do not have a game.
- Provide an environment for kids to have fun without criticism or conflicting messages.
To do this, we simply ask that spectators allow the kids to be the loudest. The issue is that if one person shouts or comments loudly, then generally others will also. So the solution is that we applaud good pieces of play, rather than verbalise it. Members are also encouraged to be creative, we encourage signs, shirts, scarfs and so on.
The club has a responsibility to ensure that members (especially children) enjoy their football without fear and/or pressure. Accordingly, the club welcomes any feedback members might have as a result of this pilot program.
Let’s not forget the sports field is also the children’s playground.