Whistle blows on parents

Badly behaved parents have risked their children being red-carded from Dunedin junior football's showpiece event.

Football South sent an email to junior clubs warning them that if issues with sideline behaviour continued, then teams could be excluded from Dunedin's Mini World Cup on August 30.

Football South general manager Bill Chisholm told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he would not single out individual clubs or teams, but the email sent on Tuesday was a reminder to all clubs that the association did not want the Mini World Cup ''spoilt by people taking a win-at-all-costs attitude''.

This year, the association had warned teams and clubs about ''unsportsmanlike behaviour'' from parents and supporters, such as shouting at opposition players, and about coaches promoting aggressive play.

The behaviour was occurring at matches between the youngest teams, Mr Chisholm said.

''It's not confined to that age group, but it's more worrying,'' he said.

''Over-the-top shouting to 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds is a bit intimidating.''

At those age groups it was not about winning or losing, he said, as scores were not kept.

Football South did not want to ban teams from taking part in the Mini World Cup, but if necessary would take such action.

''Ninety percent [of parents] are fine, but the minority can spoil it for the majority,'' he said.

''In any group you only need a few idiots.''

In the past, Football South had sanctioned supporters for poor behaviour.

Individual sanctions remained an option, but crowds could get ''a bit of sideline fever and then it's difficult to isolate and identify individuals''.

Mr Chisholm said it was disappointing.

''We don't want to have disciplinary meetings for fun football,'' he said.

''People haven't come to blows ... yet. But the unsporting behaviour comes out and being really negative and aggressive to other teams.

''Some parents take the winning and losing mentality too far ... and are rubbing the other team's noses in it.''

Football South was taking an education-first approach in the hope the behaviour would stop.

It had some advice for parents and supporters: ''They think they are supporting their kids, but in the end it puts their kids off,'' Mr Chisholm said.

''Let the kids have their own dreams and be the best they can be, but [let them] still enjoy the experience. Take a player-centred approach, not a parent-centred approach.''

The crackdown on poor sideline behaviour comes as Sport Otago launches its Sideline Behaviour Project. The project, launched last week, aims to stop bad behaviour on sports sidelines by encouraging people to think about their actions.

It was launched in 148 schools and 67 sports organisations throughout Otago.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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