Improving Sportsmanship

Hi everyone,

I am writing this with real concern about what’s happening at our football games over recent weeks….

We have had a dramatic escalation with a variety of behaviour issues across all levels of competition, this includes abuse of referees,  poor side line behaviour from coaches, parents and supporters, parent vs parent and parents vs kids. Our tolerance level seems to have gone up a notch with this type of behaviour becoming more acceptable.

We need to try harder….

As a football community we need to manage this better and together, as if we keep going the way we are, we will not have any referees left, some are already considering not continuing due to the ongoing effects of being yelled at, sworn at, spit at and physically threatened. Every weekend our staff receive numerous calls from club officials or persons involved  informing them of issues that have arisen or arising  and we are trying to manage an increasing number of complaints each week.

What can clubs do…..

1)    If clubs could take more responsibility around managing their associated  Members to encourage better sportsmanship

2)    Please make sure everyone is aware of the code of conduct in place at both your club and that from New Zealand Football.  

3)    You may like to consider, if you don’t already, instigating  a behaviour policy or a level of expectation that the club wish to see and outline the process  on  how the club may manage any issues that arise.

4)    If an incident does occur or is brought to your attention, as a Club you will need to be prepared to manage such issues using the above tools and documents as a guide.

5)    Should you wish to report an incident please ensure the incident is collated via your club contact and sent onto Karyn Walters at WaiBOP

On a positive note, there are clubs who are taking a strong stance, which is great!  We would like to commend one particular Hamilton club recently where there was an incident with some coaches and the club took it on themselves to hold a disciplinary hearing and sanctioned the coaches quickly. This sent a very strong message about zero tolerance and has set the scene. This is very helpful.

What WaiBOP will do…

1)    WaiBOP football are considering how to take a stronger stance on such issues. (currently each investigation is taking too long and we seem to get bottle necked very quickly)

2)    We are already trying to upskill referees on management techniques and recruit more referees to the game, but this takes time

3)    WaiBOP staff are happy to provide guidance and suggestions on how to implement club processes.

4)    We are currently working with Sport Bay of Plenty who are leading on a positive side line behaviour strategy across sporting codes in the Bay. This may also be brought across into the Waikato as well and is something that we plan to adopt in due course. This will include education, physical resources and an awareness campaign

Any suggestions  on how we can further improve this area of the game would be welcome.


Mark Christie
Chief Executive, Waikato Bay of Plenty Football