Let’s set the scene:
Two U15 academy sides participating in a non-competitive game of football. Non-competitive refers to the developmental year created and imposed by the NGB (That’s another discussion to have).
Two very talented teams have historically been very competitive and enjoyable games to observe during our past encounters. Today for some reason or another was different….
Once the game kicked off, the atmosphere changed completely. We had a very experienced referee with years of officiating behind him. However, during this game, every decision was being criticised intensely, which seemed strange for a non-competitive game. What I began to notice was the criticism wasn’t from the opposing coach or both sets of players, naturally, they challenged the decisions with respect, which I fully expected. The noise and constant criticism came from the opposition’s sideline. The referee appeared to be dealing with the criticism amazingly by simply ignoring them and allowing the players to play. I admired him for doing so, but eventually, he did voice his concerns to the sideline, only to be told: “Just get on with the game” …
As the game continued I repeatedly witnessed opposition players yelling, screaming and occasionally swearing at their parents/guardians to be quiet and let them play. This clearly affected them!! With every decision-making opportunity, the parents were trying to take over and play the game with their own eyes. Here’s the best part, occasionally some players did what was yelled from the sideline, made mistakes and were only met with screaming and yelling once again. These incidents not only influenced the atmosphere of the game but the performance and most importantly the enjoyment element of individual players from both teams.
The game had a young linesman, learning the game officiating from the sideline to support the on-field officiator. Every decision they made was critiqued, several opposition parents would stand behind them and shout “What’s he doing?”, and “That was never f***ing offside!!!”. These were 15-year-old kids! Some of these comments were only made clear to me after the game. One of the parents from our team decided to take it upon himself to excuse the young 15-year-old boy of any more intimidating abuse and took over. Why would they want to scream, yell, swear and intimidate a 15-year-old? Give me an example of an environment/job where this is accepted? Would we turn up to work if our boss/colleague kept screaming and swearing at us? I don’t’ think so.
Doesn’t make sense to me….
The referee made it clear that he would be writing a report. The opposition coach said “It’s difficult to handle” (referring to the parents), and was adamant that the Academy director would be told of today’s behaviour demonstrated by the parents.
95% of the parents that were fantastic it was only the 5% of parents that ruined it.
Thank you – Diolch yn fawr