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For USA CUP teams, fair play is more than a handshake

04/27/2012, 1:49pm CDT
By Tom Purdy

Teams use conduct codes, creativity to promote love of the game

For Toni Mosby, manager of her daughter's U10 team, the need for soccer organizations to promote fair play and good sportsmanship was dramatically displayed at a recent game back home in St. Louis Park, Minn. 

"Our girls were bullied by the other team during the game, and they were tripping our players a lot. We lost the game, but the other team wouldn't shake hands afterwards. Our players thought it was really mean and terrible."

Fortunately at Schwan's USA CUP, presented by PUMA, teams bring to the tournament a commitment to fair play and good sportsmanship that goes beyond a handshake.

Youth soccer organizations typically have a code of conduct that players, coaches and parents must obey. "We have a player code of conduct that each player signs at the beginning of the season," said Shannon Seymour, manager, Academy Sports Club, Cayman Islands. "It says to respect the game, no arguing with refs and no trash talking,"

"Our players, coaches and parents sign a code of ethics on an annual basis," said Lori Rosenthal, manager for Valley United Cosmos, Apple Valley, Minn. "Our coaches have an open-door policy to talk with someone when the need arises. For example if a parent gets a little poisonous on the touchline, our coaches will talk with the parent to find out what the issue is, and not let something fester."
Soccer organizations in some countries get creative to advance the cause of fair play, staging special events and meetings.

"At the league level, we celebrate a Fair Play Congress weeks before our tournament inaugurations and attendance is required for all club coaches and referees," said Amílcar Colón Pascual, coach for Club Deportivo Barbosa, Puerto Rico. "We invite professional resources, like specialists in sports psychology, to provide expert input on themes such as violence in sports and ways to deal with conflict resolution."

A team's local customs and cultural heritage can also strengthen efforts to support fair play.

"Right before we left for Schwan's USA CUP, we went to see tribal elders who prayed with our teams," said Neil Sasakamoose, coach for BATC Athletics, Saskatchewan, Canada. "We prayed that our teams would compete fairly and respect others around us, that no one becomes angry and hurts someone. And we brought a tribal elder with us to talk to any player that does get angry."

Teams find the rewards for competing fairly can extend beyond pride. Recognition can include sportsmanship awards, and more.

"Our national league for men's and women's teams over 19-years-old score points for yellow and red cards," said Jesper Bisgaard, a coach for Kolding Q, Denmark. "Then at the end of the season, they award extra berths in the European League tournament for the five lowest scoring teams. So even if your team is not at the top of your division, you still go to this important tournament." 

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Tag(s): July 22, 2011