Even with the best planning in the world, the unplanned & unexpected happens and things can go pear-shaped very quickly.

That planning will however, stand you in good stead, as it will include strategies and actions your club can take to minimise damage, resolve issues and keep the club on-track.

 

  • Abusive parents

    Issue: 

    These parents are angry at their child, or the team, or the refs, or the coach or the opposition

    Action: 

    • There are signs around the ground and in the club rooms promoting and reinforcing the values of the club.

    The key messages of these signs are:

    • That yelling and abuse actively harm performance
    • That a parent’s role is to encourage and support every player on the field
    • That sport is about enjoyment and fun for all
    • That referees, umpires and coaches are all volunteers
    • That there’s a good chance you are seriously embarrassing your child
    • Armed with the support of the club’s messaging and its stated values, a club official, (or willing upstander), needs to approach the parent (see S.M.A.R.T steps) and de-escalate the situation.
  • Parents who harass the coach

    Issue:

    These parents think it is OK to offer loud and unwanted advice, suggestions & criticism during play. This is not only distracting for the coach, but positively harmful when comments become abusive.

    Action:

    • Decisions made by coaches, (in line with the codes of the club), must be supported by the club.
    • Coaches need to be protected from parents during matches. Establish a no-go zone around the coach during game time.
    • Club’s need to constantly emphasise the fact that the coaches are all volunteers; they are giving up their time and using their expertise to help young people participate in, and enjoy, their sport.
    • Explicit messaging from the club, not to approach the coach or team during play. As per the Abusive Parent a club official or other club member should approach the parent to tone down their behaviour.

     

  • Ambitious parents of the 'champion child'

    Issue:

    These parents see their child as being the best in the team/club and are convinced she/he will go on to national level sporting achievement. These parents want their child to always be selected, to always be on the ground and to always be playing in the position of their choice.

    Action:

    • This parent can be referred to the club’s Team Selection Policy, which will spell out the process in line with the values and ethos of the club. This team selection process is made clear to everyone at the start of each season via the club website, the sign-up paperwork and the club messaging.
    • Parents also need to understand that junior sporting prowess rarely translates to senior sporting stardom. Research tells us that of 200 under 14 kids, for instance, it’s lucky if ONE gets to play at national level.
    • The emphasis should always be on, ‘team’, ‘we’, ‘the club’, rather than individuals.

     

  • Referee Abuse

    This is always going to be better handled when the club has made it clear that it’s not part of the club ethos. A zero-tolerance policy and clear signs around the club and its playing spaces to that effect, will spread that message.

    By spectators

    Action:

    • Prominent clear signage at the ground as to zero tolerance of this behaviour.
    • Spectators indulging in abusive harassment of any umpire or referee, to be approached by a club official or member and requested to stop. (See S.M.A.R.T steps)
    • Continued abuse may need stronger action from security personnel and require the offender to be escorted from the ground for that day.

     

    By club players

    Action:

    • All your club players will have signed up to your Code of Conduct at the beginning of the season. They know it’s unacceptable.
    • If such behaviour does occur by a player, then swift and firm action must be taken. A player abusing a referee or umpire needs to be taken off the ground for the remainder of the game.
    • When tempers cool, a quiet and private chat, needs to take place between the player and the coach, to remind the player of the club values.
    • An offer can be made to the player of strategies for the player to use to control and change their behaviour.
    • Having one of the club’s referees present can be useful to give their perspective of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of abuse.

     

    By opposition players

    Action:

    •  Their coach, and/or team manager, needs to be approached and encouraged to remove the offending player from the ground for the remainder of the game.
    •  The signage on display at the ground will add weight to your request.
    •  Their player must understand that at your club, abuse of umpires is considered an unacceptable behaviour that can never be tolerated or justified.

     

  • Coaches behaving badly

    Issue:

    Bullying, yelling & disrespectful behaviour.

    Some coaches believe that to get the best out of their players, they need to be tough, talk tough and act tough. This is counter-productive, particularly for junior players. See Right Actions – Coaches.

    Action:

    • Every coach who volunteers to take on a team will have been made aware of the club’s expectations of coaches
    • There is a clear and known process for complaints to be registered
    • The club will continually emphasise the ideas of sport being about fun, development & inclusion as well as about prowess and success
    • Some education for new coaches is worthwhile if the club has the resources and personnel to provide it. If an actual training session isn’t possible the club, at the very least, needs to be able to provide each coach with a handout/manual that outlines the expectations of the club in terms of behaviour;
    • The manual needs to emphasise fun and involvement of the young players & include some expert tips, including the idea that yelling at players, making negative comments, being angry etc, is totally counter- productive and can in fact lead to young people losing their interest in the club or the sport.
    • Signs at the club that promote the ideas of A.W.E.S.O.M.E coaches  will keep the club values in everyone’s mind.

     

  • Team selection and game time

    Issue:

    • Parents and /or team members complain loudly about the amount of time they or their child have on the ground on game day;
    • About who is being selected for the team;
    • And what positions they are assigned to.

     

    Action:

    • Advertise your club-wide process for team selection and game time rotations.
    • This can be done physically at the club as well as online.
    • Regularly message coaches, reminding them about their responsibility to maintain club selection processes.
    • Create and advertise on website, a feedback service for parents/players/members to take their grievances to the committee.
    • You might consider using online apps to allow you to keep these anonymous.

     

  • Club Finances

    Issue :

    Within the club there are rumblings of discontent about;

    • the annual fees
    • the perceived inequality in allocation of resources to different teams, to males and females, to juniors and seniors
    • a lack of transparency as to how the fees are spent
    • reliance on poker machine and/or alcohol sales
    • the influence of sponsors.

    Action:

    • Just as it is the responsibility of all members to pay their fees, it is equally the responsibility of the club committee to be transparent about the use of these fees by publishing the annual budget and showing exactly how the money is spent.
    • Club members should always be able to find out the financial situation of the club and to see that money is being spent equitably for the good of all members.
    • Members should also know who the club’s sponsors are, and what conditions and obligations are attached to that sponsorship.