Fair Play?

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Academy Juniors have been no strangers to cup wins, tournament titles and top of the league successes over the years, spanning age groups from our tiniest recruits through to open age ladies football, but there’s a danger that clubs in those positions can sometimes lose sight of real victory when we’re working towards the development of children and young people.

I had a conversation this week with a respected colleague from one of the leagues we are registered with.  We were discussing the ‘win at all costs’ mentality that can exist in grassroots football, and how it leads to demoralisation and segregation of children, and can ultimately lead to them dropping out of football altogether.  We talked about all things participation, which is what children and young people’s football should be about.  He told me how one season his young team got “absolutely battered” almost every week (in terms of scoreline, just to clear that up) but that they emerged victorious in one very important league that year…

The Fair Play League.

Many grassroots football leagues operate this competition as a strand of their offer to local teams, and this year, as a club we’ve decided that this is the accolade that we want each of our teams at AJs to strive towards winning.

What does being the recipient of a Fair Play Award represent?

It represents that our kids are honest, selfless and compassionate.

It represents that our kids are resilient, understanding and focused.

It represents that our kids grasp the true meaning of what it means to be a sportsperson.

Is there any better recognition for a child to receive than that?

Although our founder, Steven Watson, has traditionally sponsored a team or event at AJs over the nine seasons since he set up the club, this season he is turning his sponsorship towards a new initiative – our ‘Fair Play at AJs’ mission.

We won’t give too much away, but put it this way, if you are playing against AJs this season, then you are in for a warm welcome at our home matches and an appreciative response at our away fixtures!

Funded by the sponsorship of Superstars Coaching, championed by our committee, and role modelled by our volunteer coaches and supportive families, we cannot wait to see how our commitment to fair play plays out this season, so that we can all get on with enjoying the game and letting our kids just play football.

Best wishes to all of our opposition players, managers and parents this season – we look forward to seeing you out on the pitch for friendly, fair and forward-thinking participation in sport for the good of all our children!



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