Society's problems are now transcending more and more into grassroots football which regularly spoils the game for everyone involved. It is clear that Scotland currently suffers from an ever increasing problem of poor behaviour from the sidelines of children and youth football matches (as well as the adult game). There are several factors involved and it is clear that these factors contribute to increasing numbers of young players, parents and coaches having bad experiences resulting in many dropping out or leaving as a result and are deprived of their opportunity to learn those vital character building lessons which football can provide as well as the opportunity to fulfill their sporting potential.
The Let Them Play Weekend was introduced by the South East Region Partnership which includes representation from the grassroots clubs (boys and girls), schools, associations/leagues, local authorities and the Scottish FA. From the evidence provided and reviewed it is clear that a significant number of teams actually participated in the Let Them Play Weekend initiative, approximately 60% of all the children and youth teams in the Region. This is a large response considering the delicate nature of the topic being addressed and the fact that participation in the initiative was not made compulsory by the Affiliate National Associations.
It is clear from the evidence the project was a significant success and that the majority of the guidelines were implemented to great effect. The most success seems to have originated from the implementation of the Two-Metre Spectator Line, the Player Cards and the Club Stewards role with the majority of responses stating that these changes had a positive influence on coach and spectator behaviour.
Whilst the Let them Play Weekend can be deemed a success it is vital that this project does not sit in isolation and that more information is available for clubs and schools to utilise to ensure that positive change takes place for all those involved within the children and youth game. The recommendations must be taken forward by everyone involved in the game at all levels and therefore; by creating a positive, youth football environment, we must focus on the encouragement of effort, learning and improved performance and create a new definition of a ‘winner’. This can only be achieved if we adults change our mentality and recognise that winning is success achieved through effort. We want all young players to be given the chance to ‘be the best they can be’.
The full review can be dowloaded by click link to the right