I READ with interest the letter from Concerned Parent of Trowbridge and recognise the situations he/she has described regarding youth football tournaments.
Being a football-obsessed grandfather, I would be very disappointed to see my seven-year-old grandson turned away from a game that he also enjoys very much. But I fear that he may well switch to an activity where sporting behaviour does actually exist and the desire to hurt an opponent does not lead to success.
He has left the field in tears on several occasions after fouls had been committed against him but with the support and encouragement of his father, a youth football coach, he returns with stoicism and the determination to carry on.
My son, the coach, also recognises the misdeeds going on but prefers to teach his players to accept the situation without trying to retaliate and to try to understand that not everyone plays the game fairly all the time. (He may not be happy that I am rocking the boat.) The tournaments take an enormous amount of time and effort to organise and the clubs that run them should be applauded and encouraged. But one point in last week’s letter that must be taken note of, is that the clubs must take responsibility for policing the games and the FA must send an ‘ambassador’ to act as overall monitor on the day.
The organisers are rarely seen watching the matches and sometimes have no idea of the quality of the refereeing or the behaviour of the coaches.
I wrote to Wiltshire FA last year and proposed tightening up on behaviour, not by the parents and supporters, who should already be aware of the RESPECT rules, but of the coaches, some of whom are totally unaware of how their enthusiasm is crossing the line of what should be accepted.
My suggestion to the concerned parent is that, if possible, he or she could take a refereeing course and then volunteer for tournament duty. If not possible then write to Wiltshire FA with specific observations and suggestions.
Tony Martin , Devizes