Spectators at junior sportsgrounds are being urged to keep sideline behaviour positive so that sport remains fun for kids this winter.
The Shoosh for Kids Winter Campaign is being held across NSW throughout May and involves sports clubs, their members and sporting associations promoting positive spectator behaviour so that kids want to keep playing sport.
The campaign is supported by some of NSW’s biggest sporting teams, including the Sydney Swans, NSW Swifts, Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers and NSW Sky Blues.
Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres said we all have a role to play in ensuring sport is a positive experience for kids.
“Sport should be fun and the best way we can do this is to keep spectator comments and behaviour positive so that kids want to keep playing and enjoying the benefits that it offers,” Mr Ayres said.
“We’re urging sports clubs across NSW to sign up to the Shoosh for Kids campaign and keep sport fun for our junior players this winter.
“The message is simple, if you don’t have anything positive to say, Shoosh for Kids.”
Sydney Swans Co-Captain Dane Rampe said negative sideline comments had an impact on junior AFL player’s enjoyment.
“You want to be out there having fun with your mates and if you’re hearing negative comments from the sideline, then that really takes away from that,” Mr Rampe said.
NSW Swifts Co-Captain Paige Hadley said negative sideline comments had a detrimental effect on junior netballers.
“You can lose confidence, become quieter and even not want to play, and we want to keep as many kids in sport as we can, so it’s detrimental to have people yelling or abusing from the sideline,” Ms Hadley said.
Western Sydney Wanderers Captain Rhys Williams said kids play sport to enjoy themselves and progress, both physically and emotionally.
“Negative spectators can have a damaging effect on children as well as parents and coaches,” Mr Williams said.
“We need to stamp it out and ensure kids enjoy playing sport.”
NSW Sky Blues Coach Kylie Hilder said parents should encourage kids when they are playing.
“There’s nothing better than hearing a parent cheering for their child and the child seeing their parents are happy for them no matter how they perform on the field,” Ms Hilder said.
Former professional tennis player, Olympian and Tennis NSW Women and Girls Lead Casey Dellacqua said to keep kids playing and participating, spectators need to encourage them and provide positive feedback.
“If kids are participating in sport and they’re hearing negative feedback and commentary from the sideline, it doesn’t create a great experience, and we need to make sure they enjoy the benefits of playing sport, so the more positive spectators are, the better it is for the child, the club and entire sporting community.”
Sydney FC Captain Alex Wilkinson urged spectators to respect the decisions of referees.
“It’s important to respect the decisions of referees because they’re there to facilitate the game we love and without them we wouldn’t be able to play,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“Whether they get the decisions right or wrong, they’re only human and it’s important to respect them either way.”