FA Respect ProgramThe English Football Association launched an education program called Respect last summer that highlights how overzealous spectators, parents, and coaches are hurting the game. The initial video they released can be seen here, and dealt with how referees were hard to come by because of the abuse they endured. It was funny, and made a point. But now the program has moved into the area of youth soccer, and has taken a much more serious and direct tone.

As a starter, they have released a new video starring Ray Winstone called “2 Rays”, which may strike a bit too close to home for some. Ray believes that parents need to lose the “win at all costs” attitude and bring some enjoyment back to the game:

Kids want their parents to watch them play football but they want to be supported by them, not embarrassed. You’ve got all these adults screaming and shouting on the touchline but seven- and eight-year-olds aren’t interested in tactics. The kids just want to play the game, be their hero for the day and dream of scoring a goal at Wembley Stadium.

The video can be seen here. It’s fantastic.

Beyond this video, the FA has an entire site devoted to the Respect program for parents and coaches. Similar to the “It’s Just A Game” program from Hockey Canada (from 2003 and 2004), the Respect Guide website provides some video clips, commentary, and tips for being a supportive parent and coach.

Hats off to the FA for putting so much effort into developing such an excellent resource. Clearly they take it seriously. If you go to http://www.thefa.com, you are taken directly to the Respect campaign and must click again to reach the FA front page. It’s not buried under some other section of their website. I believe that is a fantastic way to make sure everyone sees it. The web folks at US Soccer or USYSA should take note.

If you coach, you should send this to your entire team, noting that while you’ve been happy with how your parents are behaving for the most part, sometimes we all lose perspective and here’s something that’ll help regain some. If your a parent, ask your coach to send it out to your team. We all have had ‘those parents’ on teams we’ve been involved in, and sometimes have been them ourselves. It’s all about Respect.

Thanks to @seanb_us for sending the links my way! I’ll probably be sending this out to our entire league.