Monday, 31 January 2011

The FA Charter Standard: Making it work

As an FA Charter Standard Community Club, Berkhamsted Raiders CFC tries to do things “by the book”. So, as an FA Charter Standard Community Club we buy in to things like the Respect campaign. We get our Club Welfare Officer involved if we come across issues such as bullying or teasing of younger players. We make sure that parents are coned off from the field of play or a Respect barrier is in place. As a Youth Football Club Chairman, I’m always nagging my managers about sticking to the 14 (yes ....14) codes and policies that the Club publishes. Every child and parent that joins the Club gets copies of the relevant codes in our Club Handbook. Hopefully, most of the time, we get it right and most of our managers and parents stick to the codes. (But not always...we're not perfect.)

The FA Charter Standard Clubs programme is coming up to the tenth anniversary of its inception. The question we have to ask is how well is it working... or perhaps how well is it being implemented. The Charter Standard is the kite mark of grassroots football - an indicator of quality. The FA set down criteria which need to be met by clubs in order for them to be recognized as an FA Charter Standard Club. To achieve Charter Standard a club has to commit to various ways of running football and to have in place various codes of conduct and policies..... but does this mean that the Club actually practises what it preaches? Where the FA Charter Standard falls down is in the implementation.

With 550 boys and girls playing youth football at Raiders in our 43 teams, we play lots of different clubs both locally and nationally. And many of these are Charter Standard Clubs..... but there are too many instances when you wonder how some of these clubs have achieved Charter Standard or how they retain that status. The Club Committee may have done the work to achieve Charter Standard but how well is an understanding of it communicated to their managers, coaches, parents and children? Too often, the message doesn’t get through... or if it has, no-one’s paying any attention to it!

I’m the Club Chairman, but I also run one of our teams. I would guess that around half of the teams that we play from Charter Standard clubs exhibit Charter Standard “qualities”; the other half often leave a lot to be desired..... meaning........ there’s little respect for the Respect campaign, and managers and parents seem unaware that abusing players (often their own!) and match officials is supposed to be a thing of the past. My guess is that if I were to ask the manager of the team or any of the parents about the Respect campaign, Charter Standard etc etc they wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what I was talking about. Why? Probably because the message hasn’t got through.... from the top to the bottom of the Club.

So, here are a couple of bright ideas:
  • Bright idea 1.... it ought to be a condition of achieving Charter Standard status that 100% of the managers and coaches within a Club attend a Charter Standard meeting at which the Club/County FA explain the implications of the award and what is expected. 
  • Bright idea 2.... it ought to be a condition of achieving (and retaining) Charter Standard status that 75% (or 100%?) of the parents of registered players provide written confirmation that they have received, read, understood and agree to abide by the relevant codes.
If you have got any bright ideas... let me know, or add a comment.

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