In Brief

Gareth Southgate tells parents to stop shouting at young footballers

England boss backs the FA’s Respect campaign and ‘We Only Do Positive’ mantra

Gareth Southgate has urged parents and coaches to get behind the Football Association’s Respect campaign.

The England manager is the most influential contributor to the FA’s “We Only Do Positive” handbook, which has been launched in an attempt to improve behaviour on the touchline and on the pitch.

In recent years there has been a marked increase in bad player behaviour in the professional game compared with the turn of the millennium, particularly regarding the respect shown to referees. But at grassroots level there is still a worrying trend of abuse - at officials and, incredibly, young players.

Praise don’t pillory

The FA’s research has shown that 90% of young players perform better with positive encouragement and that is at the heart of the new Respect campaign, the aim of which is to educate parents, coaches and players with a code of conduct.

The code, enshrined in the We Only Do Positive handbook leans heavily on Southgate’s five positive principles of coaching, which are:

  • Create the right environment 
  • Lead by positive example 
  • Understand your players 
  • Build a positive team around you 
  • Instil an ‘anything is possible’ attitude
Three Lions boss on board

The Times reports that in launching the initiative, Southgate said: “I’m hugely supportive of the FA’s ‘We Only Do Positive’ mantra as I’m a big believer that positive encouragement is vital to young people’s development. As coaches, our job is to help give young people confidence, the same is true for parents.”

Citing his own experience as a young footballer, the Three Lions boss added: “My dad was one of my early coaches. My parents were very supportive but not overly vocal. Very occasionally, they would offer advice.”

It’s all about enjoyment

Southgate said he hoped the FA’s campaign would reiterate that the primary purpose is for boys and girls to enjoy playing football.

“Remember that, first and foremost, they are children and that we’re trying to develop them as people,” he said. “The most important thing is that they enjoy their football. Maybe a tiny percentage will go on to be professional players but that shouldn’t be the aim of coaches with young children.”

Southgate’s comments echo - albeit more eloquently - those of Gary Lineker, who in 2013 called for “a parental cultural revolution” on the touchline.

“If we could just get them to shut the f*** up and let their children enjoy themselves, you would be staggered at the difference it would make,” he wrote.

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