Mayo GAA are introducing a ‘Silent Side-line’ for U11 games this week which they then hope to expand across GoGames and older age groups in the future.
The proposal to implement the new rule was brought forward by Ballintubber GAA at last year’s Bord na nÓg AGM and is now being implemented across all U11 fixtures to encourage an ethos of positive reinforcement for children and stamp out negative behaviour towards players and officials from the side-line.
“The objective of the new initiative is to create a more fun and friendly environment to play in and to create a more positive atmosphere for kids where they’re not feeling pressured to decide between instruction given from spectators or instructions from coaches. We want to allow them to enjoy the game, make their own decisions and make their own mistakes without any fear of criticism.”- Ballintubber Bord na nÓg secretary, Aisling Clarke.
Chairperson of Ballintubber Bord na nÓg, Brian Donnelly, also believes the new initiative will create a culture change for Mayo GAA. “We need to make sure that we are not giving the children mixed messages or creating a stressful environment for them. Having direction coming from one person on the side-line should serve to allow them to play their football more freely and without any confusion. We all know that there can be some bad habits displayed on our side-line, and in some cases these behaviours are non-existent for other sports. Player and child welfare is paramount to this initiative and the Silent side-line is something Mayo GAA will be able to build on further down the road.”
The Bord na nÓg committee were in full support of the proposal which was unanimously passed by clubs in November of 2021. Bord na nÓg Cathaoirleach, Daithí Gallagher, believes the new approach will be of great benefit to the development of Mayo GAA.
“It’s encouraging to see innovative ideas being proposed by clubs that will only serve to improve the sporting culture within Mayo GAA where the sole objective is to create a fun environment for children to enjoy themselves, while also allowing the players themselves to develop better communication and decision-making skills. We have all witnessed supporters and parents coaching children from the side-line and sometimes offering contradictory instructions. It creates a lot of pressure for the children and inhibits them from making decisions themselves. Developing the skill of decision making is important to nurture from a young age and if clubs are willing to get behind this concept I believe we will develop more well-rounded players, with great decision making and communication skills.”
Bord na nÓg secretary, Ronan Kirrane, has been very vocal on the challenges facing Mayo GAA with regard to referee recruitment and retention and believes the move will serve to benefit the organisation in the long term.
“We’re in a position at the moment where we’re struggling to get volunteer referees and match officials and we need to make a serious effort to alter the side-line culture of our games and stamp out unnecessary criticism of officials and players. There is a lot of abuse directed at some of our officials at all age grades and if we can introduce new ideas to change that behaviour it will only serve to benefit Mayo GAA in the future.”
The rules and guidance has been circulated to all clubs and will be adopted by clubs for the first round of U11 fixtures commencing this Sunday Sept. 4th.