Around the Clubs

Bring Your Manners to the Game

June 3rd, 2021

Football Far North Coast is delighted to again reach an impressive 7000 player registrations, retrieving the pre-covid drama of 2020 when 1000 registrations were lost. The community beyond football, benefits from the physical, mental and cultural engagement in sporting activities, whether our role is on the pitch or through any number of examples that pledge our desire to be part of a global movement. Sport of course brings passion and with that emotion, individuals sometimes lose a capacity to keep their manners in check? The will to win sometimes quells a semblance of reasonable measure, with common values, such as respect, regretfully overcome by words or actions that are at best unfortunate and at worst, disgraceful and unacceptable.

As season 2021 quickly moves towards the halfway mark of our precious ritual, the annual cycle of excitement, setting goals, some disappointment, new friendships made, much celebration of being welcomed as part of a club and a broad desire for so many of us to embrace the World Game, ebb and flow. Reference to less than positive influences in life, is a reality that may be confronting, unpalatable and even soul destroying, but as a long time sports administrator, my role necessarily refers to the ‘elephant in the room” that is inappropriate behaviour at the weekend football. I am addicted to sport and while my love for my family will always be a clear priority, football is my other family and just as my late parents variously did for me…as much as my stubborn petulance may have impeded my immediate preparedness to accept their wisdom and sometimes tough love, I must periodically urge a re-calibration of behaviour of some within the local football family through a range of strategies aimed at bringing some correction to any behaviour that is such that it brings nothing constructive to our game. Behaviour of course exists in many ways and the utterance of an expletive at a crowded public bar late at night with your “mates”, after a belly full of booze, is perhaps tolerated, but such language bellowed by a coach at a referee during a junior game, is a very different situation.

I am unsure that physically attacking another person has any place, unless it is fight night on Fox Sports? I offer a view that directing demeaning, racially fuelled or sexist commentary, is so past tense and I further make an observation that the descriptive neanderthal, is perhaps apt for such individuals who continue to herald such primitive behaviour. Football has a formal mechanism within the Laws of the Game, to issue a caution to a player (or team official) by providing not only the authority, but also the obligation, to a referee to issue a yellow card for various offences. Two cautions to the same person in one game initiates a Red Card (being a send-off). An offence deemed as being more serious in the one action, should prompt a referee to issue a straight Red Card. Players and Team Officials often express their distain about decisions made by match officials. Did I mention that sport brings passion? The measure of a person is not how they react when things are going great, but rather when the twists and turns of life, present challenges, unwelcome outcomes and often when something at weekend sport, including a decision of a match official, is contrary to what we want to see happen? We do not live in a utopian world and every caution issued and in fact not even every Red Card, is a reflection of poor behaviour. It’s the more extreme and exhausting examples of inappropriate behaviour to which I refer and the repeat offenders who think that bad behaviour and creating their own anarchy, should be worn as some badge of honour  Serious send-off offences are too often a consequence of unsporting conduct towards match officials and the receipt of formal reports and allegations of terrible behaviour can almost always be levelled towards an always present, although ugly minority within society. Football Far North Coast prides itself on upholding the integrity of the game and a zero tolerance is the mantra to which the organisation unequivocally aligns its values.

As a seasoned administrator, I am abundantly aware that part of my role (and regretfully a wasted diversion of energy away from more productive activities), is to uphold the regulations and procedures about behaviour and imposition of punitive measures that were established well before my tenure and scrutinised as being sound by eminently skilled and qualified people other than me. My own propensity to impose penalties would actually sometimes exceed the constraints that formal football terms articulate and while many incorrectly believe that I singularly act as judge, jury and executioner, the need for administration to formulate an assessment of penalties to respond to disciplinary offences or incident reports and allegations, will exist until we can counter any behaviour that would be considered as being inappropriate by your grandmother? I simply close with the thought that the standard you walk past, is the standard that you accept? My challenge to everyone who is involved in the Beautiful Game is any way, Call Out bad behaviour and be part of the BRAVE new world that stands and applauds GREAT behaviour. Become a leader rather than to remain passive and maybe be a follower? The reputation and well-being of the game will always be more important than any vested interest and an insistence on increasing our expectations about behaviour through values of respect, courtesy and appreciation for each other, will keep the momentum of our magnificent game. Bravo and thanks to everyone who has created another extraordinary season of football with and for our local community.

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