Following on from The FA's first Silent Support Weekends last season, it's back again with the weekend of 2nd-3rd March 2024 being selected for this 2023-24 season.
Being honest from the feedback we heard, there were lots of positives, especially with the changes to the 2nd one which allowed coaches to coach rather than expecting total silence from everyone on the sidelines. However there was also some frustrations.
A small minority were just rants because it seems they just love to shout and bawl throughout games - which is what it was brought in to try and curb - but there were some genuine concerns.
One parent commented to us that their daughter was autistic and they felt that she wouldn’t cope, and therefore wouldn’t be able to play the only sport she loves, which was really sad to hear.
A coach said they felt it killed the atmosphere and the enjoyment around the game, and a child said they missed hearing the positive, encouraging comments from parents when they did a skill, or made a tackle near the supporter's touchline.
On the positive side, one coach said that he always wants his kids to adapt and think for themselves, to problem solve and make decisions depending on what is in front of them. They felt that someone instructing every move from the sideline doesn’t help this, whether supporters or coaches, so for an odd weekend it really wasn't that bad.
A parent pointed out that when kids play in the park, or in the school playground, they don't have someone telling them what to do, they just play with freedom and have fun, which is what they saw more of on the previous silent weekends.
And a child commented that they got confused when lots of different people were shouting things at them, and they liked not getting shouted at when they did something wrong, which has got to be a huge positive.
During this Silent Support Weekend, parents and supporters will again be asked to show their support from the sidelines through applause only, so players and coaches can focus on the game, not the noise. Try to listen to the kids voices on the pitch as they're encouraged, and given the space to have the freedom to own their game. Hopefully you'll hear them communicate more with each other, and have fun playing.
Leagues are currently in the process of signing up and committing to their participation, so listen out for new from your own league and club as to whether your kids will be involved and taking part.