A recent study in Sweden found that overzealous parents can have a major impact upon young football players, with one in three having even considered quitting the sport as a result. Whilst we can all agree that shouting in an unconstructive manner from the sidelines is not a good look, it is perhaps surprising as to how often this behaviour still occurs. As a result, three Stockholm-based clubs have decided to take action.
Djurgarden, Hammarby and Swedish champions AIK all took part in a recent survey, which asked just how prevalent the issue was in youth football, as well as the impact it is having on children. For a country such as Sweden which is viewed from the outside as being relatively conservative, the results were astounding.
With over 1,000 adults having been questioned as part of the survey, 83% stated that they had viewed instances of parents pushing their children too much or shouting at match officials. It is perhaps little wonder that one in three children have thought about packing the game in, even at such a tender age.
Taking such results into account, the three clubs mentioned decided to take it upon themselves to make positive changes, despite the trio being rivals both on and off the field. A “footballing code” has now been developed, with a hope that it will help to combat such behaviour from parents. The code states the following:
“I, as a parent, will do everything I can to support my child, other children, club staff, referees and parents in training and at games – through a positive involvement.”
Over 1,600 parents have now signed up to the code, with the initiative having gained international recognition in the process. An increasing number of Swedish clubs have expressed an interest in getting involved, while continued progress could well see similar codes being developed elsewhere. Those involved are trying to put forward the notion that youth matches and tournaments are times to spend with friends and family in an enjoyable environment.
So, with Sweden being one of the first countries to combat a worldwide issue, is this something that would help to improve the behaviour of parents in the UK? There is nothing stopping Premier League clubs from introducing a similar scheme, however there appears to be nothing in the pipeline in this area. However, I think we can all agree that children would prefer to play football in a relaxed atmosphere, without being shouted at.
Sport is an excellent tool for teaching kids life skills including teamwork and communication, whilst it also improves athleticism and health. However, despite such benefits, it has perhaps come too easy for those involved in youth sport to forget just why children are taking part in the first place. So, has youth sport become to competitive?
Whilst physical skills are undoubtedly important in football, the very best players also a clear picture of what is going on around them at all times when on the field. This perhaps goes some way to explain why Premier League club Chelsea are now using artificial intelligence in order to improve their coaching.
Both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup Finals are now just around the corner, with those involved having undoubtedly already begun preparations for such encounters. Whilst the stakes may not be quite as high on a Sunday morning, there are still some important steps to take in order for coaches to give their team the best possible chance of coming out on top.