Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Sideline Champs: Silent treatment from parents pays off for players

Mixed response as coach asks parents to keep a lid on it.

Parents have given a mixed reaction to being urged by a football club to give their kids the silent treatment from the sidelines.

Mums and dads of junior players at Eastern Suburbs Football Club in Auckland received an email from club coach, former All White Billy Harris, asking them to refrain from yelling from the sides of the pitch while their children were playing.

The initiative was aimed at games involving kids aged 5 to 9. Harris recently contacted club members to say even positive support was negative and kids enjoyed themselves more if mums and dads kept quiet.

Yesterday morning at the Madills Farm Recreation Reserve in Kohimarama, parents lined about a dozen pitches to watch their offspring in action. The sidelines were eerily quiet, although some parents couldn't resist bursting into applause whenever a goal was scored.

Mum-of-four Vania Sinovich, from Remuera, was there to support her son Nicholas, 8. She welcomed the new "silent" initiative.

"It is quite nice to be able to catch up socially with other parents without a lot of people shouting and yelling all around. It also helps make the kids more aware of the importance of good sportsmanship."

Kate Christmas, also from Remuera, was happy to keep quiet while watching her son Jamie, 8. "I don't find it difficult to bite my tongue but my mother does. Mum is from the generation that likes to run up and down the sideline yelling."

However, not everyone was happy with the sound of silence. Kelly Raines, from Stonefield, there with his two sons Jacob, 11, and Riley, 5, found it hard to keep the noise down - especially when a goal was scored.

"When that happens, you instinctively want to cheer," Raines said. "It is not quite the New Zealand way to stand there and say nothing when your child does something that should be applauded."

- Herald on Sunday

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