Bullying – a nasty word isnt it! We’ve all probably witnessed some aspect of it – maybe in the work place or maybe in the school playground but according to the FA its also a problem that exists in our beloved grassroots game.

The statistic regarding bullying in general are quite alarming and clearly the FA are right to raise the issue:-

  • At least half of suicides in Britain amongst young people are related to Bullying
  • Over 1.5 million young people have been bullied within the past year
  • People who have been bullied are twice as likely to bully others
  • Name calling & insults are the most common type of reported bullying followed closely by physical

There are many forms of bullying including physical, emotional and more recently cyber. As the world shifts to a greater online presence, social media is hugely popular with younger generations and cyber bullying becomes an increasing problem.

The FA is supporting the National Anti-Bullying Week campaign that starts on the 14th November and it clearly adopts the same approach to bullying awareness in Football. Players and officials are subject to verbal bullying on regular occasions especially at matches regardless of their age or gender.

Naturally children are a lot less resilient than adults when dealing with verbal abuse especially from their peers, parents and spectators and possibly their coach – verbal abuse is a form of bullying! Abuse bullying takes on all forms on the touchline and can even continue back home on social media when the game is complete – this is clearly unacceptable in our game and everyone should be encouraged to support and appreciate good football and sportsmanship – easily said I know.

Every year players and officials leave the game due to being subjected to abuse and this is unacceptable – trying to find a referee for many clubs is a difficult task nowadays.

So what can we do to promote a positive playing environment, to encourage and support play – when was the last time we thanked or congratulated a referee for their performance? There are many ways we can minimise bullying in our game:

  1. Make your Expectations Clear

All clubs need to explain to parents and players at the start of each season what is expected from them. Most clubs have a code of conduct published by the club and this should be read and understood by players, parents & coaches.

By making your expectations clear from the start, should there be an incident of bullying, people can be held to account. Team coaches and parents need to understand that positive praise is for more beneficial than shouting and children should be isolated for any criticism.

  1. Promote RESPECT

The FAs Respect Campaign is great for reminding everyone about fair play, respecting team mates, officials and the opposition. By promoting Respect in your team and club, Bullying and Abuse can be reduced through better education. The FA has a fantastic section on their website about their Respect campaign and resources may be available through your local FA. (www.fa.com/respect)

  1. Monitor & Report

A quiet word with the opposition coach or referee can often be a good way to prevent abuse – players that have been subject to abuse previously or may have a disability can be monitored should it occur again.

  1. Awareness

Bullying is a common problem and there is support material to help clubs and coaches make people aware of the problems. By visiting www.bullying.co.uk there are a number of posters, education cards and presentations you can access at your club.

By tackling Bullying we can continue to promote our game with a positive stance and help players, coaches and officials to enjoy their game.

mysportswear is committed to supporting Grassroots football and we hope the blog post has helped to raise awareness of bullying. If you would like to share any hints, tips and advice that may help other coaches, players or clubs tackle bullying we would love to hear from you.

Please email us at sales@mysportswear.co.uk or post to the bottom of this blog.


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