There are some common issues that arise and which MPIOs, clubs, parents and players need to be aware of:
Insufficient Game Time
Insufficient game time is not a child protection issue. It is a decision for the coach of a team to determine how much game time players receive. Some clubs do have policies relating to amateur football game time and this can be clarified by contacting your club to enquire about whether they have a game time policy.
Football is a team sport and time on the bench is an accepted part of being in a football team. The strategies used by coaches are many and varied in their efforts to try and provide players with fair game time, but equal time is not always possible particularly where the games are closely contested and where player fitness, endurance, ability and team cohesion are factors in player selection, rotation and positioning.
Non-selection in team or squad
Non-selection is not a child protection issue. The selection of players and the suitability of players for a team is a decision for selectors. Players are generally selected based on skill, strength, stamina, physique, fitness, commitment, positive attitude and a willingness and ability to learn and improve. A good behaviour record and compliance with the Codes of conduct, Laws of the Game and all relevant club, FNSW and FFA policies, both on and off the field, is also important.
Our team is not winning – my child is not scoring goals
It is interesting to note that a study on children’s sport found that the top 3 reasons children play amateur sport were: To make friends; To have fun; and To play the game.
Winning is not always a priority for children and just playing with their friends, having fun and kicking the ball is often what they base their good experience on. Parents should support their children and encourage good sportsmanship no matter their priorities or outcome of the game – win, lose or draw, the experience should always be a positive one.
Sport is great for children’s fitness and well-being and is often the only outlet a child has from the stress of school and the pressures of life in general, so it is important they are allowed to enjoy their football and have a good experience.
Failure to release a player from a contract
This is not a child protection issue and is a matter for resolution between the club and the player involved.
Behaviour of the coach
Inappropriate behaviour in football is unacceptable and clubs and associations are responsible for taking appropriate action where they consider the behaviour of their team officials to be in breach of the Coaches Code of Conduct or relevant policies. Local associations also have a level of jurisdiction over coaches and team officials which can result in those persons appearing before the association tribunal and sanctions applied.
Penalties imposed for serious breaches of the Code of Conduct can include a lifetime ban from football.
Options for Breaches of the Code of Conduct
Options which clubs may consider when responding to breaches of the Code of Conduct:
- Speaking with the coach about their behaviour
- Monitoring the coach to observe the reported behaviour
- Mentoring the coach on how to improve his/her behaviour
- Mediation between the aggrieved parties
- Requiring the coach to complete the Play By The Rules on-line training
- Requiring the coach to complete an accredited coaching course
- Issue of a written warning to the coach about their behaviour
- Taking disciplinary action
- Applying a sanction
- Suspending the coach from his/her duties for a period of time
- Dismissing the coach
- or a combination of the above
Any action taken is at the discretion of the club or association or the relevant tribunal if applicable. The complainant DOES NOT determine how their complaint is managed or what (if any) action or sanction is applied.
Where a team official identifies that an error in their behaviour has occurred or where a misunderstanding may have occurred, it can be beneficial to acknowledge this and offer a sincere apology, as this can often result in clarifying the matter with a good outcome and resolution for all parties.