March 2019 marks the fifth anniversary of the Lancashire FA “Silent Weekend” where we challenged all youth clubs in the county to have silent touchlines for the weekend to allow children to think for themselves, freed from the pressure of adult instruction.
Whilst the weekend attracted wide media coverage and earned significant buy-in from most clubs and leagues, it certainly polarised opinion between those who thought it was a great initiative, and those who saw it as a restraint of trade and an infringement on their liberties.
Since 2014 we have received regular requests to host another Silent Weekend from its most fervent supporters. We have resisted any such moves for one very good reason. We have no desire for youth football touchlines to be silent. We understand football provokes a whole range of emotions and parents and carers wish to celebrate the football journey of their children. That said we also know that we lose dozens of players each year due to the pressure caused by incessant adult instruction, much of which is conflicting. In other words our goal is to change the nature of the noise from a wall of sound telling children what to do, to a constant flow of encouragement, praise, reinforcement, and celebration.
The Silent Weekend was the catalyst for much of the good work being done up and down the county by an increasing number of clubs and leagues. It spawned the Adults In Junior Football workshop which is unique to us and which has been embraced by so many clubs to great effect. It has led to coaching areas, youth councils, fair game time, and transformed touchlines where clubs are greeting guests with food, drink, and a smile rather than the traditional adversarial approach. Most importantly of all the cases of adult misconduct in the youth game are in decline indicating a see change in attitudes towards the game.
So in order to mark the anniversary of the Silent Weekend we propose to host a Positive Weekend over the weekend of March 9th and 10th 2019. We will be inviting all clubs and leagues to sign up to this initiative which will involve requesting all adults, whether coaches or parents, to refrain from any direct instruction during the game but instead to lavish all children with praise and encouragement. But we want to go further. We want clubs to be creative in offering their guests that weekend the warmest welcome possible. Can refreshments be available? Can we get the players and families together post-match? We know our innovative and forward-thinking clubs will not disappoint us! Of course this also dovetails beautifully with the new FA #WeOnlyDoPositive programme.
Further details of the Positive Weekend will be sent out regularly from today. But for now, the six month countdown is ticking. #PraiseNotPressure