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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 00:23 GMT
Parents get the red card
Parents can get carried away by the beautiful game
Parents who get too hot under the collar at their children's sports matches are being told to get in line.

Some schools and local authorities are giving parents a code of conduct to stop them shouting at their children - and the referees - from the sidelines.

Parents at St Michael's Church of England School in the London Borough of Enfield are sent a code of conduct at the start of the school year - and it is then reprinted on the back of match details sent home.

Head teacher Cathryn Mann said the guidance had been sent to all schools in Enfield by the local education authority.

They all think they have budding David Beckams

Margaret Martin, school football club organiser
She said some parents had been getting out of hand.

"They are extremely competitive about it, sometimes bordering on being rude.

"It's got to a point where some schools in Hertfordshire have had to cancel matches.

"Parents sometimes do not accept the referee's decisions - and the referees are often teachers - and they coach from the sidelines, some are abusive."


And it is not just football which raises parents' passions - and tempers.

In Hertfordshire, rounders games were cancelled after a parent confronted a referee at a tournament.

And in some schools in Surrey, parents who disrupt football matches risk having their child sent off the field.

David Beckham
Some parents like to think their child is the next David Beckham
They have to sign up to a code of conduct.

Margaret Martin, who helps run an after-school football club for Mount Carmel Roman Catholic School in Ealing, London, says some parents forget that sport is meant to be fun - as well as competitive.

"The problem is they all think they have budding David Beckhams - and they haven't.

"We haven't got a code of conduct. Most of the parents are fine but I think some lose sight of the fact that football is meant to be fun."

Mrs Martin said she knew of a case where a school had been banned from local football tournaments because parents had been shouting at their children to push and hit their opponents.

Head teacher Cathryn Mann says children are generally well-behaved on the pitch.

"The parents are harder to manage than the children because the children will usually respect the referees decisions," she said.

A code of conduct has been published by the National Council for School Sport - which represents school sports associations.

The guidelines say parents should not criticise other people - whether they are players, referees, teachers or coaches.

Parents are told to "keep a sense of proportion about the importance of a game" and recognise the efforts of everyone involved - including referees.

See also:

19 Nov 01 | Education
541m lottery boost for school sports
11 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Blair pledges 1bn for school sport
28 Feb 00 | Education
Sport 'squeezed out of schools'
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