ONE Saturday morning in my early teens I was playing for the school football team away at a school in the next town.
They had a player called Paul up front who got into a bit of a tussle with one of our defenders.
As the pushing and shoving intensified, a voice from the touchline yelled, “Go on son, have him!"
Everyone on our team stopped in astonishment to look at a grown-up version of Paul standing there, puce with fury, encouraging his son to beat up our player.
Suo figlio, needless to say, didn’t seem in need of any encouragement to do so.
I blamed his upbringing. The skirmish was stopped, the delightful Dad was spoken to by a insegnante, and the match went on. It was a horrible experience.
So all these years later, when I see the Football Association is encouraging parents, coaches and any other spectators to put a sock in it and keep quiet while watching kids play their football this weekend, I’m transported back to that miserable morning in Stourbridge more than forty years ago.
Guarda, no-one wants a silent football match – what’s football without the roar of the crowd, the collective wail at a dodgy penalty decision – or a crap pass? It’s all part of the experience.
But I can see way the FA has decided to call for a bit of fingers on your lips time. They’re making a point.
It’s for one weekend only, what harm can it do if everyone keeps quiet apart from applauding?
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If you like yelling at kids and junior level referees, then you can always go back to it next weekend.
Who are the wokesters at the FA, or anywhere else, to stand in the way of simple pleasures like berating a young ref until he or she is close to tears?
Or showing your expertise in tactical and motivational matters by shouting unrelentingly at your offspring for the entire duration of the match?
And let’s not forget that amazing feeling of power you get as you demonstrate your passion by shouting unpleasant things at kids on the opposing team, or indeed their parents.
Chi lo sa, you might even get into an actual fight yourself!
How humiliating it must be for your offspring to see you behaving like this. How ashamed they must feel.
Just give them a weekend off, Vuole? And give yourself a weekend off too; just enjoy the simple pleasure of being there and enjoying it all for what it is.
Sentirsi sicuri del proprio corpo può essere difficile per molti adolescenti - e anche Isabelle ha lottato sotto questo aspetto, I can see flaws in the rules of the National Silent Support Weekend. For a start, I’m not sure it’s the best idea for coaches to be banned from saying anything during the match.
As one coach of a kids’ team said to me, “You’ve got to remember some of the smaller ones really do need some guidance.
“I’m not talking about tactics or anything complicated here – I mean, it’s not unknown for nippers to get confused and start running with the ball in the direction of their own goal. What are we supposed to do? Let them carry on and score?"
This will surely be a rare occurrence, but I find the very idea heart-breaking. Imagine the poor lambs standing around bewildered wondering why it’s only the opposition’s parents applauding the goal they think they’ve scored.
And then there’s the real risk that, as is often the case with a minute’s silence before a professional match, the demand to respect the silence in itself causes the rumpus.
I can well imagine a situation when for half an hour all goes swimmingly, nice and quietly bar the clapping of hands, when someone forgets themselves and yells something.
At which point someone yells at them that they shouldn’t be yelling and that yeller gets yelled at too. And so on.
D'altro canto, it’s also possible that the lone loon who can’t help but break the silence to yell out their guff will sound even dafter than usual, even possibly to themselves.
I’ve watched kids’ football at all levels, and one thing has become obvious to me: the poorer the standard, the more noise there is.
If you watch academy teams at professional clubs, you share the touchline with lots of parents and friends of the players who, let’s be honest, have more riding on the game than in most grassroots football.
And fascinatingly there’s barely a murmur, beyond shouts of encouragement and applause.
At this level, most of those looking on have been about the game long enough to know a thing or two.
They’ve come to understand that the best way of getting kids to perform to their best is to give them the time and space to work things out for themselves.
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And if this is true for those youngsters playing on the perfect pitches of the pro clubs’ training grounds, it’s also true of the kids you might be watching churning up mud on your local park.
Let’s give peace a chance this weekend. Our kids will probably thank us for it as much as the referees.