"The officials and members of Sawston United Youth FC produced a fantastic atmosphere, full of enthusiasm and interaction, last Tuesday at the Spicers Clubhouse for my Respect Workshop. Organising an extra-curricular club meeting can be a tricky undertaking but Welfare Officer Catriona Buchanan and U15 Manager Mark Pauley secured an audience of at least 50 people ranging from the under 11s to the club Chairman.
With every chair occupied, youngsters on the floor at the front and the later arrivals squeezing in the doorways, we kicked off with a few reminders of why Respect in football is important. We visited the origins of the programme in 2008, when The FA said 'enough is enough' (of dissent and abuse to referees) and compared the accepted practices of today, where pre-match handshakes, spectator barriers and Respect stewards are the norm. We broke into small teams and enjoyed a wonderfully noisy quiz, which demonstrated how much the members knew (and didn't know!) about the laws of the game; and we attempted some refereeing decisions, firstly on yellow & red card challenges, then on some contentious offsides. How interesting it was to see people sitting next to each other, looking at the same thing, arriving at different conclusions!
But this is a club in which the members do understand that it's the referee's opinion that's important and his/her decisions must be accepted by players, coaches, managers and spectators alike. And they recognise that it's everybody's responsibility to maintain a safe, fair and enjoyable environment for all. So... 'Respect' to Sawston United Youth FC for this initiative, and I look forward to having some fun helping other clubs in due course."