Related pages:


Email Us

Parents Code of Conduct

Testimonials from other parents

For Players

All our policies, consent forms and codes of

conduct are available at our Child Protection

page. This is required reading for parents:

Safety & Child Protection

Would you shout at a child when

they were learning to read?


'Come the Whistle':

A pilot for a documentary

into the "adultification" of football



'What adults can learn from kids'

by Adora Svitak (age 12)


'Schools kill creativity'

& 'Changing Education Paradigms'

by Sir Ken Robinson


American System Part 1: Is it broken?

- A mother's view of her son's player

development journey (the last sentence in

this article is essential reading!)


Parenting is cultural!

'Why Chinese Mothers are Superior'

- a different perspective


"If you make the effort to be the best of which

you are capable, I think that's success"

- the brilliant John Wooden, ex-UCLA coach,

on True Success


Parent behaviour at games is difficult to

control when your team is losing.

Here is a "How to do It" video by some

Catalan parents.

L'Equip Petit

Enjoy it, have fun! That's what the

children are trying to do.


BBC Radio 4: Investigation into Children's


Worth a listen for all parents, if only to see

what's in store for your children once they

decide to play for a team.


Rights of a Young Player


The John Allpress Football Parents page


Touchline Dad - a blog from a sports parent


Other links:

What makes a nightmare sports parent

What is the point in youth sports?

Successful development of the young athlete

Early Specialistion: Why it's a bad idea

Understanding Parent Spectator Behaviour


Our values:






Recommended books for

understanding how

we learn:

Mindset (Dweck)

The Talent Code (Coyle)

Bounce (Syed)

Wise Up (Claxton)

All good for tube journeys,

beach holidays etc.


Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS)

Children need to practice moving every day.

The following pages give ideas for activities

that parents can do with their children in their

own home:

FMS for Early Years (ages 3-5)

FMS for KS1 (ages 5-7)

FMS for KS2 (ages 7-11)



Muswell Hill's Number 1 Football Development Programme



HOME           SESSIONS          ABOUT US           CONTACT US

Parents are an integral part of the Ministry of Football programme. Our aim is to develop confident, creative, skilful football players, and we could not do this without a group of supportive and understanding parents. This page explains to football parents how they can help us achieve our aim.

"If we want to create an environment where young players enjoy the game, have the confidence to receive the ball and try out new skills and techniques - placing them in a bear pit surrounded by screaming adults is unlikely to have the desired result"

- Dermot Collins, FA Respect Manager

1. Helping to create a positive learning environment

Parents help shape the atmosphere and environment of Ministry of Football sessions even before they arrive at the venue. Parents can ensure their child arrives on-time, well-fed and rested, and in the right state of mind for creative play. 

“Adult spectators and coaches are guests at the children’s games. We are guests because if no adult attended, our hosts, the children, could still have a game....Children do not need the adults unless we have something positive to offer”

- Douglas E. Abrams, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law

Young children's perceptions of the Ministry of Football programme (and of football in general) will be heavily influenced by what their parents communicate to them. A child's self-esteem and self-confidence can soar if they know their parent has enjoyed watching them play. Parents should try to be positive about what they have seen - give specific praise for the positive things they have seen their child accomplish, whether that be the courage and confidence to try something new, a football-decision they made during a game (to pass/shoot, to dribble, to move), or something new they learnt to do. In this way, the MoF children will grow more confident in their ability to continue trying new things. (This is beneficial for learning: We believe that learning happens when you are faced with situations for which you have no set answer).

2. Understanding what we are trying to achieve and how we think we can achieve it

We want parents to understand why we are different from other children’s programmes, and to compare MoF with the other activities their children attend. We want parents to question - how is my child learning? We want them to notice how involved and included the children are in each activity, how often they find themselves in situations they don't have an easy answer for, and how many opportunities they have to make mistakes and also to succeed. We want to provide parents of young children with high expectations, especially of children’s football programmes.

MoF believes that football in 20 years time will be very different from football of today. Football will grow, develop and change in ways we cannot imagine (just as it has done over the past 20 years). In order to be successful footballers in the game of the future, today's children will need confidence, creativity and skill. It will not be enough to only know what the adults (coaches and parents) of today know about football. This is why we believe in allowing children the freedom to make their own mistakes and to invent their own answers. (This is preferable to feeding them our own prescribed answers from the touchline).

"The greatest gift that you can give to your children throughout their sporting involvement is support. When asked what it is that they would most like from their parents in terms of support, most children suggest encouragement and acceptance of their choices."
- Australian Sports Commission

All MoF parents should try to understand this, and work with coaches to help develop an environment which is stress-free and where mistakes are welcomed as being part of the learning process. In reality this means: Parents should not yell at children from the sidelines ("Kick it!", "Shoot!", "Down the line my son!" etc).

In English culture children spend a lot of effort trying not to stand out from their mates, and this often means hiding their talent. This is partly because of a fear of the consequences of failure (embarrassment, ridicule), and also because no-one likes being branded a "show-off". A Great Football Parent will help us to encourage their child to be expressive. At MoF, we want children to be able to show-off and positively encourage it as often as possible. We expect parents to re-inforce this with applause and praise, rather than criticism at the inevitable mistakes that will happen when a learner tries something new or different.

There is no-way that we can produce confident, creative, skilful footballers in an hour a week. This is why we give homework each week. A homework activity is typically something technical to practice with a ball, such as a drag-turn or a step-over. Parents should actively encourage their children to practice this homework.

3. Winning v Learning

"You watch Liverpool and Carragher wins the ball and boots it into the stands and the fans applaud. There's a roar! They'd never applaud that here" - Xavi

There is often a conflict between Winning and Learning. Let's look at an example: In a small-sided game for 8-year olds, a child has just received the ball near to their own goal. The child needs to decide what to do, and they need to decide quickly or an opponent will steal the ball. At Ministry of Football, we believe that one of the main factors that will influence the child's decision is the environment they are playing in.

In a high-pressure environment where the focus is on Winning, this child will be in a stressed situation and their decision will be based on what they consider is the safest thing to do. They will fear making a mistake, and they will probably boot the ball off the pitch or as far from them as possible. In these kind of  Winning-centred environments, such safe play is often encouraged and cheered by parents and coaches - and the children learn to be safe and not to take risks.

If however the environment is focused on Learning, then the child will feel less-stressed, and will be more able to take their time and be creative. If the child knows that it's ok to make mistakes, then they will not feel pressured into a safe option, and instead they may choose to dribble the ball past an opponent, or make a deliberate pass. They may lose the ball, or they may not. But in trying to do something much cleverer than simply booting the ball off the pitch, they will be gaining essential knowledge of what works for them and what doesn't. This knowledge, gained over years of experience in Learning-centred environments, is what will turn children into good football players of the future.

"When the emphasis at 9, 10, 11 years old is on winning football matches it takes the fun out of it; just trying to get a result is not how it should be. It should just be about enjoying the game and getting loads of touches of the ball and being more comfortable in possession; something I think will make you a better player when you're older" - Peter Crouch

Parents are absolutely key in creating the environment that the children play in.  For young children, the parent and not the coach is the key influence in their lives.  Even the smallest approval or comment from a parent can have a massive influence on how a child plays, learns and develops:

"Children are quick to pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues made, sometimes unwittingly, by the adults in their lives. When a child comes home from a game, parents send a distinct message with, "Did you win?" They send a much different message by asking three other questions: "Did you have fun?," "Did you do your best?," and "Did you learn something today?" The last three questions teach children to measure success by internal factors within their control (such as whether they hustled or improved a skill), rather than by external factors beyond their control (such as whether the other team was more talented or whether a teammate made a costly error). Jim Thompson, founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance at Stanford University, urges adults to help their children set "effort goals" rather than "outcome goals." Asking the right questions does not diminish the child's desire to win, but it does teach that in youth sports, losing does not mean failing."

- Douglas E. Abrams, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. Click here for full article.

(As a short aside: We don't believe there is anything wrong with a child who wants to win. We do not believe we can expect to develop a new generation of winning footballers if we teach youngsters that 'Winning isn't Important'. Some children want to win more than others. We need to teach all children to accept defeat with grace, without diminishing the natural desire to win).

4. Nutrition, hydration and rest

A child will not be able to reach their learning potential if they have not had proper rest and nutrition.

After (and during) sessions, children need to replace lost fluids, and feed the body with nutrients. Bring a bottle of water to sessions for your child to drink during breaks and at the end of the session. Have a cereal bar or other nutritious snack ready for your child to eat at the end of the session, so they can quickly recover energy and start preparing for their next physical activity.

5. Safeguarding Children and Improving the MoF Programme

All children have the right to enjoy playing sport. If you notice anything happening during a session that results in any child being hurt, saddened or marginalised - let one of the MoF coaches know. This could be something small like children not sharing equipment properly or it could be something bigger like bullying or unsafe tackling. We need the help of parents to ensure we create a positive learning environment. Remember - parents are an integral part of the programme and a major factor in influencing the kind of learning environment we provide.

If you have suggestions on how we could improve the programme, please let us know. At the end of each term,we ask parents to complete an on-line feedback form, which gives us information on how we are doing and on how we could do better. But we would welcome feedback at any time - either by email or phone. Likewise, if you have any questions or are unsure about anything, just ask.

Thanks for your support, together we can achieve great things.

Tips for being a Great Football Parent:

  • Bring your child to football with the correct kit and a drink.
  • Arrive to sessions on time.
  • Read and adhere to the Parents Code of Conduct.
  • Allow your child the freedom to express themselves during football sessions, and to find solutions to situations that are different from the ones you know.
  • Be positive. Don't be hard on your child for making mistakes, instead praise the creativity shown in trying to do something different.
  • Cheer and applaud all the children - not just your own.
  • Bring a cereal bar or other nutritious snack for your child to eat at the end of the session.
  • Encourage your child to play with a ball and practice skills during the week.
  • Let us know how you think we could improve.
  • Enjoy it and have fun! That's what the children are trying to do too.