by Thomas Hoogendoorn
Woden Valley Soccer Club held a ‘Respect Round’ over the weekend, to take a stand against disrespectful behaviour in football, both on and off the field.
Held on the 22nd and 23rd of May at Mawson Playing Fields, it was also a chance for the club to give thanks to all volunteers and officials who keep everything running each weekend.
Club President Marc Mowbray-d’Arbela hopes the initiative will continue throughout the season.
“We are all respecting each other, respecting the game, respecting the referees, coordinators and volunteers without whom this cannot happen,” he said.
“We are respecting the fact that we have the privilege to be out here on the grass playing football. That’s not been happening everywhere around the world and it’s something that we shouldn’t just take for granted.
“No one should be confused about the importance of being respectful to the opposition, to the referees, to your own players. That should be a standard expectation across the board.”
“Sometimes you have to remind everybody that. We need to keep it going throughout the season.
“It’s as important as the rules of football. It’s an important foundational basis to successful football engagement that people are respecting each other and the game.”
2020/Canberra United players and Woden Valley juniors Rachael Goldstein and Sasha Grove paid a visit to the club, to help spread the message.
Grove said it’s time to acknowledge those who contribute to the community and call-out disrespectful behavior.
“It’s really great to see, obviously when you are a younger player things kind of go over your head a little bit. But once you come back you just realise how great it is,” the 16 year old said.
“I certainly really enjoyed after a game going and getting a sausage or something. It’s really communal here and I really appreciate having that.
“Having these kinds of rounds where we just get to appreciate not only the players but the coaches and all the parents is just really special.
“We really have to hold other people accountable, not just people from the other team but from your own. It starts from there and if you are not dealing with that then it can escalate really quickly.”
Unfortunately, referees generally receive the brunt of the abuse. Local referee Delfina Dimoski thinks it is about time clubs raise awareness about this issue.
“Respect is an integral part of our game,” Delfina said.
“It’s about time that clubs have started to become part of the conversation about respect.
“It’s not just Capital Football referees coming out and saying ‘respect us’, it’s about the game more broadly, not only referees but respecting players, officials and parents. Anyone who wants to be a part of our game should feel respected and supported to do so.”
Her advice for up-and-coming referees is to just pick up a whistle and give it a go.
“It is a decision that I haven’t regretted. I’ve got a lot out of being a referee.
“It’s a really good opportunity to be involved in the game that you love on a different level and actually give back in a way that helps facilitate other people’s enjoyment in the game.”