Silent Support Weekend returned on the 25/26 Feburary 2023, a campaign to encourage a silent touchline at youth grassroots games. This is to allow the players on the field to develop their game themselves and listen to their coaches’ instructions without distraction, aiming for a happier and safer environment for all.
The FA touched up on certain aspects of the touchline silence rules, with changes made from the feedback received from the initial Silent Support Weekend back in November 2022.
The FA took heed of the suggestions and opinions of everyone involved in the last touchline silence – parents, coaches, match officials and the players. Compared to the first initiative, coaches were now allowed to communicate instructions to their players during the game. This was a welcomed change from the coaches.
Liam Sudbury, the coach for Codnor Boys speaking about the positive change said “It’s better, the kids are able to get instructions and it keeps the game flowing, being able to tell them if its yellow’s ball or red’s ball.”
The younger divisions do get confused at certain moments in game and instruction from the coaches on how to proceed helps the players keep the game going.
Coaches were in unison with their thoughts that the need for coaching instruction is important and that they were glad that they are now able to send instructions during the games, the notion was fully supported by the coaches at the younger divisions where five a side are played – the U7 and U8 teams.
Mark Bilbie, the coach of the Chellaston Cheetahs U7 side was one of these coaches, speaking about his difference of experience between the first touchline silence and the weekend’s touchline silence, the coach was vocal with his support for the change allowing him to give instructions to his players during the game, allowing them to help the kids “keep the game moving".
The revamped initiative has introduced volunteer officials chosen from the parents at the matches.
These volunteer officials vested in yellow are given the role to oversee reminding the other parents at their game to keep touchline silence.
The volunteers had control of their groups, seeing little to no moments where they were called into action to remind the other spectators to follow the guidelines to the revamped touchline silence.
It is clear that the community believes in the FA’s mission to provide a safe and inclusive environment in football.
There had been the one or two overexcited parents breaking the silence, but they were quick to catch themselves, keeping the interactions between them and the volunteer officials civil. In the effort made to catch themselves when they get ahead of themselves when in the moment shines the success that touchline silence has been in integrating into the game.
Derbyshire FA were receptive to feedback from the prior run of the and are still actively working all angles to improve. It is with great communication with the community that is behind Derbyshire FA and its efforts, both parties are able to work together to continue to meet in the middle.
The FA has and will continue to make football a safe space for everyone.
Written by Andre Francis