SPORTSDESK COMMENT WITH MARTIN DOWEY: Pushy parents in danger of turning junior football into a laughing stock

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I have witnessed first-hand the comments and behaviour of some overzealous parents at junior football matches

Thankfully these acts have been noticed on a national scale because the whole situation is in danger of turning a kids’ sport into a total joke.

Sports minister Helen Grant recently warned parents that their behaviour could land them in a police cell - but doesn’t that sound ridiculous?

Can you imagine taking your eight-year-old son to Oliver’s Mount one minute and then being pushed into the back of a police van the next?

Also what would be going through the child’s head when their parent is carted off?

According to the FA, last season there were around 4,000 misconduct charges and 491 referee assaults at both adult and junior level.

The figures at junior level are scandalous, especially if parents are involved because they are there to set an example.

Of course you want to see your child score the winning goal or win a crunching tackle, but at that age does it matter that much?

The whole thing is about introducing young players to the game of football, rather than parents’ issues with the referee or their frustration at not being able to play anymore.

Having covered Minor League finals days at the McCain Stadium and then Queensgate in Bridlington, I have seen some really embarrassing scenes.

I may not be the best dad in the world, but I try not to swear in front of my kids, no matter what situation I’m in.

In some instances blue language is rife, with parents and team officials letting rip at refs and even young children.

The whole situation comes down to this win-at-all-costs mentality that surrounds local junior football.

Maybe this is why many players don’t go on and make it at a decent level because the constant pushing by some parents can have a negative effect.

I have also seen junior matches at the levels above and in other sports - the difference is staggering.

In the days of the old school of excellence at Scarborough FC and from talking to junior coaches from football league clubs, the influence of the pushy parent seems to be squeezed out a little more at the higher level, or they just opt to take a back seat.

My youngest son plays rugby on a Sunday morning, and in two seasons of action I have seen no issues, just encouragement from both sides and both sets of parents.

Maybe this could be an example for some to follow, rather than making their kids’ football activities more of a personal vendetta.