As an organisation working with parents in sport are asked many times to help support and promote the Silent Weekend, the Silent Sunday or indeed the Silent September.

We are often asked about how we feel about these events and our stance has always been that we love the concept and motivation behind running these but also feel that something needs to be done to help support the sporting parents on the side during the process.

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These events are fantastic for raising awareness, but must also provide some positive channels for discussion and the opportunity for parents to understand why a certain type of support is more beneficial for their child’s development and enjoyment; this has not always been particularly well addressed.

In some quarters it has been seen as another opportunity to criticise and bash parents for displaying in what many ways are just normal human emotions. Granted, some of these behaviours can be extremely misguided but what have we really done to address those beliefs?!

The issues that we face on the sidelines can be traced all the way back to Roman times. Sport was always a release from the sterile nature of day to day life and an opportunity to let off some steam. People merely wanted to have fun when watching the gladiatorial games and in many ways sporting parents have continued this trend.

Life has become sterile for many and do we really want to take away the excitement for them watching their child play and being involved in sport?

Parents behave in a way that society perceives sport, the games they watch in stadiums or the matches they see on TV and merely fall into line with these environments when watching their children play. It is not high on their agenda to be thinking about the ins and outs of sports coaching and child development.

That is the role for us as coaches and educators to help support them.

Sport is passion and we need to find new and engaging ways to support sporting parents and allow them to channel what quite frankly are normal emotions. The weekend is a time for them to allow some of their passion out!

There is no doubt that local bragging rights can often be at stake and many poor behaviours are due to that fear of dented pride.

If that is the case ‘The Silent Weekend’ goes against all normal levels of human emotion and could we maybe try something a bit different that is far more natural and perhaps allow parents to adapt behaviours during the process.

Many parents are peaceable human beings (not all) who would be happy to be guided by clubs, coaches and other parents.

As a result, we all have a great responsibility to ensure the environments that we create are natural but still crucially allow our children to flourish and develop.

So how does this sound as a concept?

‘The Noisy Weekend’ – parents are allowed to make as much noise as they want watching their children play, creating a wonderful atmosphere but we put against that the following set of guidelines.

  1. You must not shout any instructions to your child or any other player on your team.
  2. You must not shout anything aimed at the official.
  3. You may not shout at an opposition player but you may praise them if they did something well.
  4. You may not shout towards the opposition coach or parents.
  5. You can be as ‘Noisy’ as you wish following the guidelines above.

With our work on the sides of some grassroots matches we have witnessed some absolute crackers. Great games, great support from the side, huge ovations for both sets of players for putting on the most fantastic, entertaining game of sport. It can be done, that lovely mix however can be difficult to find and requires all parties involved in that specific match to hold similar beliefs and approach the contest in the right way.

We are not claiming to have found the solution to our problems on the sidelines but is it worth us being creative, trying different things that raise awareness but crucially create environments that allow everyone to flourish and really look forward to their matches at the weekend.

Article by guest author Gordon Maclelland from http://www.wwpis.co.uk


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1 Comment

  • getridofitoneofyou

    02/05/2018 - 8:24 am

    Silence is not the key element of the “silent weekend’. When Silent weekend was first organised in Lancashire in 2014 the stated aim was to ‘free children from incessant instruction’. A simple evaluation question would be, has it done that? And the answer would be no.
    But if this is a problem then the solution is not to hold more silent weekends sporadically. As far back as 2008 Nick Levitt, former FA Development Manager, said that children playing football have very little ownership of the games they play. Nick Levitt presented the 2012 review to make football more fun for kids. The same claim was made for mini-soccer in 1998.
    The reason that we keep coming up with schemes to make football more enjoyable is that we don’t address the element identified by Nick Levitt, ownership.
    The core of the problem is not down to parents it is not even down to the coaches who shout instructions constantly, it is down to the FA. It is the FA who creates the backdrop of ‘England’s failure’ to produce players. It is the FA who validates amateur coaching with certificates but no assessment. (I have 5 FA coaching certificates, but I have never had meaningful assessment for my competence or suitability to coach children.) It is the FA who validates the replication of adult football for children with Charter Standard awards. The FA has taken ownership of kid’s games.
    The effect of this is that children don’t enjoy it. I live in the Hull area. When I started amateur coaching in 2006 there were 43 under16 teams in the local league. In 2018 there are 28.
    The kids are letting the FA know what they think of amateur coaching.
    Amateur football coaching is a disaster. How did anyone think that you could become a football coach in a weekend, but until this is recognised at the FA nobody is in a position to address it.

    John Breen

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