1. ITV Report

Steph Houghton fronts FA 'Pledge of Positivity' campaign targeting bad behaviour on the sidelines of grass football

The Lionesses captain is helping lead a campaign encouraging spectators and parents to create a more positive grassroots atmosphere. Credit: The FA

Parents in the North East are being urged by The FA to improve their behavior at junior football matches.

The ‘Pledge of Positivity’ campaign, signed by Lionesses captain Steph Houghton, aims to stop players and referees being abused from the touchline.

A survey carried out by The FA found 88 per cent of grassroots participants thought that parents drove disrespectful behaviour in the game.

Players at Boldon Girls club, where Houghton began her footballing career, star in an FA video campaign.

Houghton has also co-signed a letter with fellow England captain Harry Kane, which has been painted on the pitch of her childhood club.

The Lionesses captain, who is from Durham, said: "Positivity is essential in football. It’s important to create an environment where everyone enjoys playing", Houghton said.

"There are small things you can do on the touchline – like applauding good play from both teams – that has a big impact on young players."

A message from Steph Houghton, painted on the sideline at Boldon Girls football club: Credit: ITV News
  • Coach Paul Smith, who founded Boldon Girls, said the environment on the touchline can have an impact on the players:
  • Launching the campaign, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said:

Having coached grassroots football for the last five years, I’ve seen first-hand the huge impact that parents on the sidelines can have on players from both a positive and negative point of view.

It’s no surprise that kids play better in a positive environment and our research has confirmed this impacts 90 per cent of players.

It’s crucial that we create an atmosphere where players are encouraged rather than abused, for their enjoyment of football as well as their mental health. I urge others to join me in making this pledge and showing their support for kids’ football.

– FA chief executive Mark Bullingham