A youth soccer team in Colorado is calling on parents to be less competitive, reminding them not to freak out over a kids’ game.
Fire FC, a recreational soccer club for kids aged 4 to 18, posted a sign to encourage better sportsmanship among the parents of players, reported ABC News. The move, the club said, is also intended to bring fun back into the game.
The Fire FC sign reads, “Reminders from your child: I’m just a KID. It’s just a GAME. My coach is a VOLUNTEER. The officials are HUMAN. NO college scholarships will be given out today. Thank you and have fun!”
The executive director of Fire FC, Shaun Howe, said that parents at games have acted in a concerning manner.
“Nine out of ten people are really on board,” said Howe, “but I spent most of last week meeting with parents who wanted [the games] to be more competitive. They are well meaning, but competitive doesn’t mean belittling other people.”
He added that some of the referees, who are the targets of parents’ ire, are often only teenagers.
“We’ve had issues with parents respecting the referees, and about two years ago we were having a lot of trouble retaining referees,” Howe told the Grand Junction Sentinel. “We were losing referees, and it’s still a struggle. We’ve done some other things, on top of this, to try and retain referees. If they officiate 10 games for us, we cover half their registration costs for the next clinic. We’re also buying referee kits for them, which is usually 60 bucks out of their pocket.
Howe told the Sentinel that it started as a reminder to a small percentage of parents.
“There’s this feeling, in a very small group of parents, that a kid needs to dominate a U6 soccer game or they’ll have to hear about it on the way home,” Howe told the paper. “This started as a part of a movement to just let the kids play.”