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A referee perspective on the educational practice of competitive youth games: exploring the pedagogical function of parents, coaches and referees in grassroots soccer
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (ReShape)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0699-1434
2019 (English)In: Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, ISSN 1740-8989, E-ISSN 1742-5786Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Background: Referees, parents and coaches are vital for co-creating the educational practice of competitive games in youth sport and influencing young players’ behaviour, learning and socialisation within the game. Coaches and parents influence players in different ways incompetitive games and their behaviour can be viewed as role-modelling actions that affect players’ observational learning and communicate what is regarded as important and valuable. Referees and refereeing is an under-explored field of research; especially the experiences of referees in youth sport and soccer.

Purpose: Based on a referee perspective, the aim of the article is to contribute knowledge about the educational practice of competitive games in youth sport with a focus on the pedagogical function of parents, coaches and referees within the context of grassroots youth soccer.

Theory: Competitive youth games are approached as play activities conditioned by authority and respect for the game and the referee as are presentative of the game and as a person. In the game, players are influenced by the pedagogical function of parents, coaches and referees and their relations direct what is possible to learn and experience. The concepts help us to understand the conditions for competitive youth games and the roles of significant others in co-creating the game as an educational practice.

Method: The empirical study is part of a research project called Educating for fair play? In this project, the behaviour of parents and coaches in three grassroots soccer clubs in Sweden was explored during the 2017 sports season based on referees’ and players’ perspectives. For this article, the empirical data consists of 17 audio-recorded interviews with a total of 27 referees. A five-step qualitative content analysis has been used to analyse the data.

Findings and Conclusions: From a referee perspective, the pedagogical function of parents is to act as spectators and as proponents of roler espect and good referee relations. They are expected to encourage and praise the team and its players and to facilitate a friendly and holistic learning atmosphere in which all players, even opponents, are supported and included. The pedagogical function of coaches is to safeguard and promote referee respect, focus on their task as team leaders and player developers, facilitate an atmosphere of civility in which the participants in the game treat each other as worthy autonomous human beings and direct the players to focus on playing the game. Referees’ pedagogical function is to be authorities and representatives of the game, adopt a learning and improving approach, be game managers and enjoyment facilitators, communicate with and instruct and foster players, coaches and parents. By adjusting the expectations, for example of referees’ competence in relation to the level of the competitive game and balancing competitive seriousness and the spirit of play, parents and coaches can co-create an educational practice that emphasises the players’ own development and that of their educative experiences. As game managers, communicators and instructors, referees, with the support of parents and coaches, can orchestrate the game and create a joyful atmosphere of learning and development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2019.
Keywords [en]
Educational practice, pedagogical function, competitive youth games, referee, coach, parent
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Sports Science; Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-75764DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2019.1652806ISI: 000481037800001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-75764DiVA, id: diva2:1342599
Available from: 2019-08-14 Created: 2019-08-14 Last updated: 2019-08-29Bibliographically approved

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Andersson, Erik

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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