Earlier this year, a report at The Inside Left reported about a specially designed football league for children. This involved the introduction of simple rules into kids’ football. The success was surprising and overwhelming. Ralf Klohr, mastermind behind the FairPlayLeague answered a few question about his reasons and motivations.
Get Things Rolling
The Fair Play League was established in 2007 around the city of Aachen with initially only 12 clubs. It was Klohr himself who got the ball rolling. After reading a report about parents getting involved in a brawl at a youth game he decided he has had enough. The parents transferred their enthusiasm and will to win onto their kids. However, as in this case, the results did not come and things got out of hand. Additionally, he has seen enough critical situations at kids’ games. It was the moment for Klohr to decide to stop supporting this and began his own project.
The 3 key aims that proved to be the golden formula for success looked very different. Firstly, the kids make their own decisions during a match. Yes, there is no referee. This puts an enormous responsibilty into the hands of the kids. Yet, they are doing nothing but organizing themselves just like they would do on any play ground. If there are any grave issues, the coaches have to help, Klohr admits. The coaches have to use one coaching zone. Again, pressure is on both to behave.
Lastly, the parents have to keep a healthy distance from the pitch. Any one who has experienced the behaviour of parents on the sidelines knows how disturbing this can be. The parents want success more than the kids at any cost, while the kids want to play, which is a natural instinct between the age of 4 and 8. This is no longer fun, if the parents shout at them. Though with good intention, this often has the opposite effect.
Klohr tells of the experience of the kids once the parents have been ‘removed.’ The game is a very different one as the kids can focus on the game since there is no distracting noise from the sidelines. Their ability to concentrate increases. Parents sometimes have to be reminded that surveillance is good but that kids need time and space outside any control and supervision to flourish. This is what Klohr transferred onto the football pitch by setting some simple rules.
As with any new idea, it takes time to find wider acceptance. Since its inception in 2007, the fair play league found increasing support. In 2011 the major breakthrough came when the regional FA Mittelrhein introduced the concept for its youth football. After that, more associations followed until