The FA have planned the first Silent Support Weekend this coming weekend across England, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th November 2022, to promote good behaviour on touchlines across grassroots youth football.
Already we've heard of parents saying that they're not going to attend the games, and coaches complaining, with comments like 'there's no way my kids can just be left to play without me organising them' and 'we might as well just give them a ball and head to the pub'. Maybe, just maybe, our kids might surprise us.
On the whole, we believe it's a really positive initiative, and it is only for one weekend. The aim of this is to reduce pressure on youth players at grassroots level and give them a better opportunity and environment to find their own voice, improve their on-pitch communications skills, develop their own game, and most importantly have fun.
The idea is the only voices that should be heard whilst games are being played are those of the players and the referees, while coaches and spectators are encouraged to show their support by applauding good play from both teams, but refraining from talking or shouting. This is to hopefully create an enjoyable, safe and developmental experience for all youth players, so that they can play the game with freedom, without pressure, and without an over-emphasis on winning at all costs.
It's what kids do across playgrounds and parks every day throughout the country. And if you ever have the pleasure of watching these games, you'll see that the kids can organise and self manage, and even self referee, even if it's not always what us adults would consider 'perfect'. They have fun and, as mentioned, that's one of the most important aspects of playing.
Let's give them this one weekend and just enjoy watching and listening to them play and learn, and have fun. What's the worst that could happen?