Kent FA mark Silent Support Weekend
Leagues, clubs, and teams across the county took part in this initiative to reduce pressure on youth players at the grassroots level and give them a better opportunity and environment to find their own voice, improve their on-pitch communications skills, develop their own game, and most importantly, have fun!
Clubs competing in 10 youth leagues and all sides participating in the U13 and U14 County Cup competitions took part in the silent support weekend. As a county, we are incredibly proud of the 10 youth leagues that signed up to support this initiative. We are very grateful to all clubs, parents/carers/spectators and coaches across the county that gave the initiative a real go. We know it wasn't easy, but it was great to see everyone doing their best to be silent and let the players play!
Kent FA staff members that attended games across various leagues and competitions over the weekend noticed how much more they could hear the players talking to one another, even in younger age groups and the ownership this presented players with on the pitch to make decisions for themselves.
"We didn't know what to expect with the Silent Support, but my daughter's club were committed to trying. Both teams respected the Silent Support ethos at her game, and we saw only positivity from all parents. You could hear the players on the pitch communicating better than ever before. Overall, it was a positive experience, although my daughter said she missed the upbeat cheering from parents when a goal was scored." – Claire, parent of a grassroots youth player.
There were some innovative ways that the coaches communicated with their team during the game in a non-verbal manner, ranging from hand signals to tactics boards being held up during games to passing messages through substitutes.
"It was refreshing to try something different to the usual sharing of respect messages and to ask people to act differently. I think that players just got on with it. The only feedback I received was from adults who struggled during the silent weekend, which I think is telling as it is the youth players' game at the end of the day". – Faversham Strike Force Football Club.
"The players being children, enthusiastically loved the silence, and the coaches appreciated the silence to help them develop the players in their team. It was also informative getting a parent's perspective watching their children play in a silent environment, as some parents felt it loses the enjoyment of being there as supporters" – The East Kent Youth League.
We appreciate all who have taken the time to provide feedback on their experiences. This helps to shape future initiatives and plans around any similar national campaigns.