Play by the Rules Let Kids Be Kids

Parents all want their children to shine on the sports field. Yet there’s nothing that will dull a child’s sparkle more than having parents and spectators pressure them from the sidelines.

It can be an easy trap to fall into as an adult. We go to adult sports events where the noise of the crowd masks all but the voices of those nearest us. We comment out loud at players’ performances, roar at mistakes, and vocally urge our favourites to do better and go harder.

We call it atmosphere.

But at a child’s sports event, we are likely to be one of only a few dozen spectators.

When we scream instructions or yell in disgust, our child and other children on the field can hear every comment, and they know where it comes from.

What they hear can have a marked impact on them for the rest of their sporting lives - some may rise above it. Many can’t.

Now in his fifties and one of Australia’s most successful football leaders, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is at the top of his game, revered for his energy and confidence, and with a reputation for not suffering fools gladly.

It may come as a surprise to learn then, that Postecoglou harbours a discomforting memory from his childhood of huddling, frightened with his team mates and opposition players as parents argued on the sideline.

Throwing his support behind the Play by the Rules ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ campaign to raise awareness of the impact of poor sideline behaviour, Postecoglou recounts the story of how an enjoyable weekend sports match suddenly turned ugly.

“I must have been 10 or 11 and the parents started arguing and fighting amongst each other,” he says in a video message for ‘Let Kids Be Kids’.

“And the thing that struck is that the kids—us—both teams, just huddled together in the centre circle, each of us frightened for ourselves and I guess for our parents.

“And even at such a young age it made such an impression on me that the people arguing and fighting outside the field forgot why they were there ... because why they were there were the kids, and their kids were scared, huddled together, opposition and team alike, trying to protect one another.”

Postecoglou is one of a number of high profile sports people endorsing the ‘Let Kids be Kids’ campaign.

View the video below which features Ange and many other Australian sporting icons reminding parents to Let Kids be Kids and recalling their own sporting memories as a junior player.

Let Kids be Kids - Icons Video