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Kick The Corporate Out of Children’s Football was the the feedback from parents, facilitators and volunteers, at this year’s National Children’s Football Week’s Free V Free. An increasing realisation of the brandification of the children’s game is fueling claims that football is the bully of sport on the school play ground. ‘If you are no good at football you are no good at sport.’, said, Jason Swift, parent, Liverpool.
Pester power is the ability of children to pressurize their parents into buying them products, especially items advertised in the media. Football brands care little for the development of our children. It is not in the interests of professional football clubs to safe guard our children’s parents from branding their little ones as young as two weeks old. From the moment children are born they are branded and the football fraternity claim another unsuspecting life-long product wearing walking advertisement.
In the recent decade we experienced a tremendous shift in social media as well as in its usage. One of the primary objectives of social media is to increase brand awareness through building stronger relationships between companies and customers. Marketing is now more intense than ever.
What’s the problem?
Manufacturing children for a football system brings a myriad of issues that don’t seem to figure in the grand scheme of things. If the father was brought up on Derby County then his son will have no choice or if mum is a life-long Chelsea fan then her daughter will follow suit. Keep it in the family! It pays to brand early – very early!
Over the years The NCFA receive concerns from parents about their children being under pressure to buy the latest football kit, boots, etc. The fall-out at home and at school can be stressful for all concerned. Are you a parent with a view on this matter? If so – let us know about it and answer the following questions by sharing your opinions by emailing them to: email@example.com
As you child ever been bullied at football. If so – where? On the play ground, at a football club or other place? What was the cause of bullying?
Have you been pestered by your child to buy any football regalia / paraphernalia? If yes, what was it?
What should be done to protect children from branding?
NATIONAL CHILDREN’S FOOTBALL WEEK
FREE V FREE
Three of the best
National Children’s Football Week hosted by Don’t X The Line at Park Brow Community Primary School, Liverpool, was a success with over 200 children and parents attending this year’s Free V Free event. Mal Lee, organiser and founder of DXTL, said, ‘We have received enquiries from far and wide about this year’s event. The demand has been overwhelming.
Free v Free Week 12th to 20th July, 2017
By David Ramzan NCFA SEN Officer
As I work at a special needs school I know how difficult it can be for students to access football activities outside of school hours, so as part of the NCFA Free v Free we held a week of football during the school day from 12th to 20th July, before the school year ended. All the children were invited to take part and time was made for a series of games to be played each day on the playground and school field.
Students from sixth form helped out organise the teams and matches. Although the school has a football field with goals, we also played some games where goals were made up from jumpers and coats and there weren’t any side lines or coned areas. The youngsters who have some mobility difficulties playing on grass took part in some fun games in the school MUGA and then took part in a penalty shoot out against the teachers. On the last day of the Free v Free School week the juniors organised their own game, picked the sides and played without any adult instruction, cheered on by teachers and teaching assistants. The event overall was a very enjoyable experience for all those who took part during the week of fun football.
Although Kent now has one of the largest Pan-disability football leagues in the country, many youngsters with SEN/disabilities are still not able to access football simply because of travel restrictions and distance from venues where SEN/Disability league football is played. At Wyvern SEN School we hold a weekly after school football club, but for students who live some distance from the school who use school transport, if parents/carers are unable to pick their children up afterwards, then they are not able take part. Events such as the NCFA Free v Free Week of Football offers children of all abilities the opportunity to play football for free, which is how the game should be played.
Frame Football, goes from strength to strength at Kings Hills F.C. There is clearly a need to integrate all forms of young peoples football. There is also a need to highlight the importance of providing football for free for special needs players. Frame football makes the point for Free v Free in National Children’s Football Week.
Football is a game enjoyed by millions all around the world every day and now a game that children with all sorts of disabilities can also participate in and enjoy. Children who go to main stream schools who struggle with PE and playground activities with their friends because of disabilities like cerebral palsy, visual impairments, hearing issues or learning disabilities of all kinds. We give those children a football, include, involve and encourage them to do what kids love to do, play, have fun and feel part of something.
When children with disabilities get involved in able bodied football it limits their involvement. Some get excluded, some can’t cope with the strength required to play and some just can’t get involved due to the speed of the game. With Frame Football all the children are participating and included within the same environment. They are treated fairly and equally. The children do not feel like the odd one out as they are playing on a level playing field. It means a great deal to be playing with other children with disabilities rather than struggling to try and keep up as they are the only one among 20 able bodied playing. Everything from the type of football used, the special game frames, the time spent playing and the rules of the game have been specially adapted to enhance the game and make it unique and more importantly making it able to be played by children with all sorts of disabilities and issues.
Frame Football was founded on 4th July 2015 from the Coundon Court FC Frame Football team in Coventry who at the time were the only Frame Football team in the country. We have now become an Association and boast of many affiliated teams all across the UK and even overseas. We are a volunteer group of football coaches, volunteers and parents who have come together to form an Association with the goal of providing football tournaments and games for players who use walker style frames. We now hold National Tournaments three times a year at St George’s Park – national football centre in which the children love to get involved in and compete for trophies and medals to treasure from their day.
The Association has worked closely with Quest88 to pursue a new bespoke Frame Football specific Frame. These “game frames” are available to buy and the Frame Football Association continue to buy and donate frames to players through competitions or through a player unable to participate due to financial circumstances.
Frame Football gives a chance, a chance to change a life. It puts a smile on a face. Children want to play just like their hero’s on TV and we support and give that opportunity. As a non-profit organisation we are constantly relying on fundraisers and donations to continue the growth of this amazing sport. Every single penny raised goes back into helping children by buying equipment and arranging tournaments. If you can help in any way please get in touch.
For more information or to get involved please visit our website, contact us via social media or email us. We will put you in touch with your nearest club and more importantly start your frame football experience.
“The only frame that should stop you from scoring is a goal frame”
Advice for parents about bullying in sports
Bullying UK, part of Family Lives, receives complaints about what happens on and off the sports pitch too. It isn’t just other players who can cause problems, but sometimes parents, coaches and team managers can also be capable of bullying behaviour.
Pressure from mums and dads
Research shows that many youngsters give up football because of the stress of parental pressure, the shouting and taunts from the touchline. Football development officers often feel fed up with parents’ behaviour with mini soccer being turned into a mega stress with a ‘win at all costs’ attitude.
If parents are taking the game more seriously than they should, shouting vociferous encouragement from the side, displaying excessive disappointment at the missed goal and of course abuse or invasion of the pitch, this should not be tolerated and neither should abuse between rival team parents in the heat of the game.
Set a good example
If you’re a parent think about the example you’re setting to your child and other families. A friend of Bullying UK who managed a youth soccer team in Leeds told of one match where there was so much trouble that the police had to be called and they refused to let parents leave until they’d taken their car registration numbers. On another occasion when he substituted a player, the substituted boy’s father, who was a linesman, threw down his flag in a display of petulance and shouted to his son: “Come on Thomas, we’re going home”.
The sports mad parent may be pushing their son or daughter very hard and making unreasonable demands. Parents need to know that they can be guilty of bullying too and that constructive criticism about the effort they put in is acceptable but personal negative comments are not and neither is punishment for an off day.
If your child is being bullied in his/her sports club then talk to the coach or manager about it and ask them to make other staff aware of the problem. Ask for the matter to be dealt with discretely. If the coach catches the bully in action they can’t accuse the victim of telling tales.
If the problem continues
If the problem continues and the club doesn’t seem sympathetic, ask if there is a complaints procedure and follow it. Clubs may have their own rules or guidance issued by the sport’s governing body and there may be appeal procedures over disciplinary matters.
If your complaint is about the coach you need to be fair and objective when making a complaint. Not every child will be picked for the team every week and it’s better to approach the coach in a friendly way to discuss any issues of concern. If you can’t resolve matters at club level you could consider taking it to the sport’s governing body.
How your child might feel
Remember that sport should be about fun and enjoyment and just because your child might not be as capable as another on the sports field doesn’t mean that they should be left out. Sadly we know that this can happen and it can be heartbreaking for parents to watch their child having to sit on the sideline for excessive amounts of time, especially when they have attended training every week and have shown commitment to their club when others who are played haven’t. If this continues to be an issue and you can see that your child obviously isn’t enjoying their activity anymore then you might have to think long and hard about whether they should continue.
No one wants to see their child upset or despondent and if getting to games is starting to feel more like a chore than a joy, then you definitely need to sit down with your child and have a chat about how you might find a way forward. Focus on the positives – perhaps there is another club they can take a look at where things might not be so competitive, or another sport that they could try. It’s imperative that you emphasise that they have done nothing wrong and don’t deserve to be treated in this way so they don’t blame themselves.
Of course you have the option of speaking to the club manager about this but try to remain calm and think about any impact this could have on your child in the future. Try to find out how your child would feel about you having a word with the manager beforehand.
Natalie Jackson writes; we share a lot of synergies between what we do and how young people benefit. TR works with girls aged 7 upwards using running to build their confidence in sport, exercise and life. Natalie Jackson, Director, and Ex-sprinter and Olympian Emily Freeman, former UK no 1, now retired and working to inspire the next generation, firmly believe that the growing interest in running is having an effect on girls.
We work with girls age 7 up and with adult women – often school staff – using running as the tool to build confidence in sport, exercise and life. By approaching it in the right way anyone can improve their running and learn real lessons about themselves and the rest of their life.
Running is also something we have some serious experience in. We know what it takes to run at all levels – from adult beginner to Olympic athlete – and at all distances from sprints to marathons. We know what it takes to get started and we know how to turn consistent actions into results. We work with girls aged 7 upwards, both in and out of school, as well as with their mums and teachers. If you, your children or school want to get more active and make running part of your life – let’s do it together.
For more information contact:
UEFA Foundation for Children backs 12 new projects
The foundation’s board of trustees promotes sport as a vehicle to support vulnerable children.
The UEFA Foundation for Children’s board of trustees, chaired by the former European Commission president, José Manuel Durão Barroso, met in October at the House of European Football in Nyon.
The main items on the meeting agenda included a review of all current activities and campaigns, and the inaugural 2016 UEFA Foundation for Children awards ceremony took place, highlighting the work of the five charitable bodies chosen to receive the awards for their campaigns seeking to promote peace, integration, greater social harmony, respect for differences and non-discrimination: streetfootballworld, Colombianitos, Just Play, Right to Play and Magic Bus.
The board also approved new projects, following on from a call for projects for 2016/17. The board carefully studied the numerous initiatives submitted, which had to meet the following criteria: conformity with the UEFA Foundation for Children’s statutes; credibility of the bodies in question; presentation of a viable budget, including the participation of local partners; and the sustainability value of the projects.
The UEFA Foundation for Children has earmarked €1 million in financial support for 12 new projects, involving programmes designed to help vulnerable, disadvantaged or disabled children across the world.
The following projects will be added to the UEFA foundation’s portfolio:
An educational project based on team sports, in particular handball, volleyball, football and basketball, run in partnership with a French non-governmental organisation, CIELO (Coopération internationale pour les équilibres locaux), which is active in Benin, Cameroun and Togo;
An initiative aimed at promoting education and life skills in Congo, proposed by Promo Jeune Basket, who have been working with young people in the country for more than ten years. More than 1,000 youngsters have derived benefit from the project;
The “Solidarité aveugle” (“Blind solidarity”) project, run by Libre Vue, destined for 150 young blind girls and boys in Mali, and designed to enable them to play football in an appropriate environment – thereby combatting social exclusion and promoting football for all;
“Goal Plus”, a project supported by PluSport, an organisation which uses football and other ball games to integrate disabled people in Switzerland;
“The Game, The Life”, established by the Swiss NGO IMBEWU, and aimed at supporting disadvantaged children and young people in townships in South Africa in their education and on their life paths, in order to bring about greater equality, tolerance and social cohesion;
A project by the Brincar de Rua organisation, which is based and active in the Leiria region of Portugal. The project offers street-playing experiences in urban areas for children aged between 5 and 12. The children are integrated within groups in their neighbourhood, and take part in sporting activities which are beneficial to their health, development and well-being;
An educational, health and social inclusion programme for children in disadvantaged communities in Israel and Palestine, to be implemented in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Deir Istiya by Inter Campus, an organisation working with numerous local partners;
A programme of education through sport which keeps children occupied and active from when they leave school during the day until the evening – normally a period in the day when they are generally left to their own devices. The programme is run by the Education for Children organisation which is active in Jocotenango, a region of Guatemala marked by extreme poverty, gang crime, drugs and alcohol, as well as by domestic and sexual violence;
“Football for All in Vietnam”, a partnership programme between the Football Association of Norway and the Vietnam Football Federation, which promotes education and cultural values through football for young people – in particular girls, minorities and disabled children;
Football for Life (F4L) Academy, a specialised educational programme, based on playing and designed for the world’s most marginalised children. Since 2014, in the Philippines, F4L has been using football to help disadvantaged children to continue their schooling and escape from intergenerational poverty, and connects marginalised children with prominent local football players to motivate them;
A programme run by Plan Nederland, an association working to reduce early pregnancies and forced marriages among young girls in Guatemala, using football as a vehicle to make girls more autonomous and reinforce the process of social change. Fathers and boys are being encouraged to actively support the girls;
The “Beyond the Pitches’ Green” project run by the Instituto Fazer Acontecer, a non-governmental organisation based in Brazil which promotes sport’s potential as a powerful tool for social change. This project will enable the training of 300 instructors in Football3 methodology, benefitting more than 900 young people from disadvantaged communities in 15 towns across the country.
Follow the UEFA Foundation for Children on social media:
Association Football has been played for over 150 years and is by far the most popular team game in history. It is a game almost exclusively organised, played, supported, managed and profited from, by men. Women were at first ignored, then banned, and latterly marginalised by being confined to their own game, even though they are just as skilful as men players; and despite the huge financial contribution, in one form or another, that they make to men’s football.
‘This website uses football as an exemplar to show how easy it is to modify sport so enabling the genders to fully participate and compete together; reversing the corrosive misogyny and gender stereotyping that many sports promulgate’. J G Harvey
For more information about this topic visit http://www.fairfootball.co.uk/
The National Children’s Football Alliance, The Peace Village and GroepINTRO, facilitated football for fun games for refugees on International Day of Peace, 21st September, 2016. For more information on how an International Children’s Football Alliance can create Peace Makers For The Future contact The NCFA: firstname.lastname@example.org
Give Us Back Our Game campaign was founded by Paul Cooper (National Projects Director and Founder Member of the NCFA) and Rick Fenoglia (Manchester Metropolitan University). Both parents were arguably at the forefront of lobbying the custodians of English football to change their ways when facilitating the children’s game. In fact, both gentlemen were invited to sit on the Football Association’s ‘working groups’ in Soho Square which subsequently led to the ‘Respect’ campaign. Paul revisits a period when every national paper and the BBC were tripping over themselves to cover the outrageous behavior of parents on the touchlines of children’s football. The fervour for blaming the children’s grass roots game for the England team’s lack of success was and still remains Monty Python esque.
Paul Cooper; In 2008 Capricorn Productions approached me and Rick to take part in a film about children’s football. They produced a short thought provoking documentary film directed by Ernie Brennan (Managing Director and Founder of the NCFA) on the state of children’s football in England called, ‘Come the Whistle’.
It focused on the ‘adultification’ of children’s football, touchline, parents and coaches’ behavior, as well as children’s development. The findings helped prompt Ernie to start a Children’s Football Alliance with the brief to ‘ring fence’ children’s football and play.
But what has actually changed in grassroots children’s football since the short documentary was made?
On the wider football front nothing much has changed with the national team. In 2008 England were not at the Euros as they had been knocked out by Croatia on one those forgettable wet nights at Wembley in the qualifiers. At least England qualified for the 2016 but nevertheless packed their bags early after an embarrassing defeat by mighty Iceland (population about the same as the city of Leicester, the surprise winners of the Premier League).
Behaviour on the touch line came into focus again early this year with the headline “Spectators at children’s football matches so violent ‘someone will be killed’ parents warned.” This in a weekend which saw one parent threaten to stab a referee, another head-butt a volunteer linesman and young players threatening to vandalise a dressing room, all in the Surrey Youth League. Three years earlier a parent running the line in a youth game in the Netherlands was beaten and kicked to death by a couple of youth players. The nightmare scenario eluded too in ‘Come the Whistle’ had manifested itself in the most horrific way.
There are however encouraging stories as in some areas of the country grass roots volunteers have worked tirelessly in making children’s football experience a positive and fun one. DontXtheline who appeared in the ‘Come the whistle’ documentary have worked tirelessly week after week with various ground breaking initiatives.
One of the programmes that Mal Lee and his colleagues have started is the excellent ReFspect programme which has been supported by many youth clubs and leagues around the country as well as county FA’s, the PFA and professional clubs, Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United, Arsenal and Sunderland.
Another new initiative from DontXtheline involves a green card, which referees show to highlight incidents of sportsmanship and fair play.
These grassroots organisations that turn up week in week out on the touchlines do this as volunteers and are crying out for funding and a major sponsor. But while groups like DontXtheline have to count every penny, in the world of professional football the game is awash with money. Leicester City this year received three times the prize money Manchester United did in 2008 and the transfer monies, TV deals and wages far outstrip what was happening just 8 years ago. The money in the game is obscene and in comparison, the money given to children’s grassroots football is shameful.
As the rest of this countries’ sports organisations now look to follow corporate football’s greed, we the general public can only sit and read the rest of the world’s observations and comments on GB’s win at all costs approach.
Youth clubs are having to find more and more money as pitch fees and costs spiral (more of that later) and these often have to be passed on in the way of increased subs. Many children are now simply being priced out of the game.
Another area that is in decline is grass roots football pitches. Since the 2012 Olympic Games in London over 100 school playing fields have been sold. They are currently being sold off at a rate of one school playing field every two weeks. Even a modest sized playing field can fetch tens of millions of pounds and even though they are on green belt land, it appears it makes no difference.
The NCFA’s Peace Fields Project tries in vein to combat the importance of preserving community fields through twinning them with Flanders Peace Field, site of the 1914 First World War Christmas Truces. Absolutely no support from the football fraternity has been offered to date.
The FA are building 30 new 3G pitches but according to the Guardian newspaper it comes at a price as around 100 employees have been made redundant to help fund the pitches. Extraordinary in the current professional football financial climate.
The ‘win at all costs’ philosophy still thrives in children’s football (still mimicking the adults professional game) and it is a bit of a lottery as to whether your child’s football experience is a positive one. The challenges that ‘Come the whistle’ highlighted are still very much evident in the children’s game. Most of the changes have been cosmetic but there is still a hard core of organisations, parents, coaches and others that will continue to fight for the children and their wonderful game.
If you feel that this article resonates with your experiences in the children’s game or if you feel that this article mis-represents your experiences contact the NCFA: email@example.com