Doncaster Rovers will be the first club in the area to be part of the County FA's campaign.Doncaster Rovers are excited to welcome representatives from Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA on Saturday as part of the FA’s ‘RESPECT’ campaign, which looks at improving the standards of behaviour across all levels of the beautiful game.
Rovers are the first club in the region to be selected for a designated ‘RESPECT’ fixture when they host Gillingham and James Bell, S&HCFA Referee’s Development Administrator, said he was delighted to kick off at the Keepmoat.
“Four months ago we set up a ‘RESPECT’ working group at the County FA because in the past there’s been a lack of leadership from our point of view on ‘RESPECT’. It encompasses staff from referees, safeguarding, administration and the management team at Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA which has a view of improving football for all; improving standards of behaviour, making it more inclusive and enjoyable and a fun environment for people playing the game at grassroots level,” he said.
“One of the ideas we had was to run a ‘RESPECT’ based fixture at each of the five pro clubs (in the region). Doncaster were the first ones that we contacted and this is the first one we’ve actually ran.
“The game against Gillingham will be a big event for us to promote ‘RESPECT’, what it entails, and for Doncaster Rovers to show that they endorse the message of ‘RESPECT’ and fully support what we’re doing as the County FA.”
James was keen to underline just how dramatic the decline had been in the number of football participants across the UK and how the County FA, among others, are trying to arrest the slide. Rovers will also provide the platform to reach a mass audience and deliver vital messages.
“If you look across the county, each season there’s a big decline in the adult male 11 v 11 game. You’re also looking at around 7,000 match officials walking away from the game each year and so, to combat that, the FA set up the ‘RESPECT’ programme to try and counteract the bad things you see in the press; assaults, abusing match officials, an environment which isn’t child-friendly.
“For us, Saturday is massive and we really appreciate that Doncaster have shown in promoting the ‘RESPECT’ campaign and helping us organise the event. From the County FA point of view, it was hard to reach a mass audience so working with Doncaster gives us a chance to promote the campaign to a mass audience – hopefully in excess of 6,000 people – and it gives us the opportunity to show what ‘RESPECT’ is about, demonstrate best practice to a large audience which we wouldn’t necessarily get by hosting a tournament in the middle of the summer.”
Lisa Glaves, S&HCFA Welfare Officer, added that she hoped both professional and amateur players could learn from each other.
“We’ve got youngsters coming from the Doncaster region so it will be good for them to see their favourite players getting involved in the campaign and then they can see that it’s not just Sunday league football but football throughout.
“It makes it more cool if their heroes are doing it rather than their manager or leagues are telling them it’s something they’ve got to do. We’re hoping that everything goes smoothly and there’s no red cards or yellow cards so we can show the youngsters that are here that pro players follow the ‘RESPECT’ campaign.”