Last Saturday the FAI in conjunction with the NECSL launched the Don’t X The Line campaign in the Meath & District League grounds in Navan. The Under 7 league runs for twenty four weeks under the guidance of Mags Sheridan from the NECSL. Mags is the driving force behind the league and indeed it’s smoothness of running is down to her supreme organisational skills.
There are twenty eight teams playing every Saturday morning on the all weather facility in Navan. All teams play two games each and the emphasis is on FUN. There is a match card that each Manager fills out after each game but the one thing not on the card is the score of the game. As Mags explained “We are trying to keep it non competitive and fun for the young players”. Paul Martyn (Volunteer Education Co-Ordinator) from the FAI says it is the underage players we are trying to target with the campaign.
The Don’t X the Line campaign “is trying to encourage the players to enjoy the game and not worry about winning matches” he added. “The programme is not only aimed at the players but spectators, parents, coaches and managers to behave while attending games. We aim to nourish and encourage the fun and enthusiasm our young players bring to the game”
The five aims of the campaign are:
1. To eradicate aggressive and abusive behaviour from players and spectators
2. To promote zero tolerance of defamatory comments or language, be it racial or discriminatory, towards referees, fellow players and other supporters
3. To promote an environment for sportsmanship and fair play in underage football
4. To provide education to adults and young people on the importance of respect and tolerance in football
5. To encourage safe participation for players and spectators
It is hoped the campaign will take off and other leagues around the country will adopt it. Already leagues in Monaghan, Cavan, North Dublin and Kerry have held discussions about implementing it. After the fantastic launch last week it is easy to see why it will take off around the country. Over 280 players and up to 500 people in total were in attendance last week and the FUN factor was a joy to behold.
The large crowd were addressed by Mags Sheridan who believes that the Don’t X The Line campaign will compliment the hugely successful league in the years to come. She added “Next year we will be running the campaign at Under 7 and Under 8 level”.
Paul Martyn from the FAI acknowledged Mags’ huge input and remarked “that the campaign will complement the league in putting a little more thought in all the minds of those who play and attend our games”.
Finally Mal Lee, from Liverpool the founder of the “Don’t X The Line” campaign was a special guest and spoke “of his emotion in seeing such a fantastic response to it. The effort being put in by Mags and the FAI for pushing it forward can only result in more players having fun, more referees staying in the game”. He added “it was a pleasure and an honour to see such a tremendous turnout and all the players playing with a smile on their faces, regardless of the result”
Every player received a special “Don’t X The Line” pin and wristband from Mark Scanlon, FAI Development Officer for Meath and Paul Martyn to close a memorable day in Navan.