Youth sports are about having FUN.
If you ask a 6 to 9 year old why they play soccer the response will be because it's fun. If you ask a 10 to 12 year old they will say the same thing — or that they hope to play for a professional club in the future like Manchester United or Barcelona, or because all of their closest friends play on the same team!
As parents we want our children to be happy. We love to see them being successful, scoring goals, saving penalty shots or making a goal-denying defensive play. What we struggle with is seeing them fail. Seeing them miss an open goal, miss a save that cost a goal or get knocked over by the other team. We, as parents, feel helpless!
Still, what we should do as parents is to take our budding young soccer stars to the edge of the touch line on the field or practice area—and let them go. Then realize, they are on their own!
However, too often , in watching a youth game, the target of frustration is usually aimed towards a mistake a player makes or the person in the middle — the referee (THE BAD GUY)! Now, imaging that youth player hearing a parent criticize a mistake. Or imagine being the parent of a young referee, taking verbal abuse from an adult.
REP is an effort to improve the game day experience. It encourages spectators, coaches, and club officials to provide positive reinforcement to players and referees. REP provides guidelines on how positivity and respectful behavior impacts young athletes.
This is where REP, EDP’s Respect & Etiquette Policy, comes in. REP applies to all individuals attending and participating in EDP competitions, including referees, coaches, clubs, and spectators. The goal for REP is to improve the game-day experience. It encourages spectators, coaches, and club officials to provide positive reinforcement to players and referees.
By encouraging all participants at youth soccer games to follow the guidelines listed below, REP aims to reduce the stress of parents sometimes place on youth players during games and to stop negative focus on referee decisions. In other words, REP is not only meant to reduce the stress on parents, but more importantly on players and referees as well.
Support players; applaud and encourage them at all times.
Maintain a respectful and safe distance from the field of play.
Refrain from any conduct that will be detrimental to the player, team, club or league.
Always be polite, restrained, and respectful regardless of calls from officials.
Allow club officials (coaches, managers, etc.) to act as leaders.
Be mindful of players’ emotions and the potential damage caused to young players by overly aggressive sideline behavior.
Remember, mistakes are as much a part of sports as they are of life. Players make them. Coaches make them. And, of course, officials will also make mistakes. Coaches and parents need to be understanding, accept mistakes as part of the soccer experience, and, most importantly, enjoy the time spent with youngsters enjoying themselves running, jumping, dribbling, shooting, passing, competing, and having fun with their teammates!
Founded in 1999, Elite Development Program Soccer (EDP) is one of the largest organizers of youth soccer leagues and tournaments in the U.S. EDP operates youth leagues for boys and girls ages 9-19, conducts a Futures program for players ages 7-11, and operates U20/23 men’s and women’s leagues. EDP also runs over 20 tournaments each year. One of the major priorities of EDP’s leagues and tournaments is to enable soccer players to reach their full potential, with an emphasis on attending college. More than 3,500 teams participate in EDP’s leagues and more than 170,000 players compete in EDP tournaments annually. For more information on EDP, visit www.edpsoccer.com.