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Essex ‘Respect Week’ exceeds expectations

Respect week group at Dagenham & Redbridge Respect week group at Dagenham & Redbridge

Saturday, April 19, 2014
10:00 AM

Activities reach a climax at Dagenham & Redbridge FC

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Football freestyler Colin NellFootball freestyler Colin Nell

County Welfare Officer, Helen Hever, claims the recent ‘Respect Week’ activities “exceeded my expectations” as they reached a glorious crescendo at Dagenham & Redbridge vs Portsmouth, following efforts from grassroots clubs all over Essex to promote the fundamentals of The FA’s Respect Programme.

Teams and leagues, including the Sky Bet Football League’s Daggers, pledged to “create a fair, safe and enjoyable environment” from the April 5-12 as key features of the programme were displayed at ‘Respect Matches’. This culminated with a range of celebratory events allied to the huge game at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium.

Football freestyler Colin Nell kept the spectators entertained with his ball-juggling outside the ground before the game and on the pitch at half time, plus a feature appeared in the official matchday programme. Local FA Charter Standard Community Club, Dagenham United FC, formed a ‘guard of honour’ as the teams and match officials entered the pitch.

Elsewhere during Respect Week, the County FA supplied two youth leagues – the Echo and the Blackwater & Dengie – with banners and other promotional items including flags, balloons, T-Shirts and marshal jackets to display at their cup finals. Partner clubs received their own packs including anti-bullying wristbands featuring the Twitter hashtag #BullyFreeEssex.

‘Respect’ is the collective responsibility of everyone involved in football to ensure the game can take place in an appropriate manner. The programme was launched by The FA prior to the start of the 2010/11 season, and successful outcomes have been measured ever since. County Welfare Officer Helen Hever was joined by Essex County FA colleague Melissa Cowell to decorate areas of the Daggers’ ground with branded merchandise.

Helen was enthusiastic with the outcomes, explaining: “The response from our clubs and leagues exceeded my expectations - it was a real positive. It was also great to have lots of people getting involved via social networking sites because all of these types of interactions raise the profile of a very worthwhile programme.”

“From the outset, Dagenham & Redbridge FC have been very positive in promoting the Respect programme. We were fortunate to have Colin Nell in attendance, too, and his demonstration of skills was an obvious success - the children and young people, in particular, were very impressed. I was also fortunate to attend two youth league finals and it was great to see the players warm up in their Respect T-Shirts.”

She highlighted that Respect Week had been an eye-opening experience which she learned a great deal from, continuing: “Spectators, both younger and older, waved their Respect Flags, which was a good visual for the programme. Chatting to some of them gave a mixed message on how the Respect Programme is perceived. It was refreshing to hear current views on how Respect is working across different levels.”

“There have been many plusses, and there’s a recognition that both time and responsibility from all participants is needed. It is clear the majority of those involved want to strive to see improvements in behaviour, which is a huge positive and can only be good for the future. It is key that everyone sees this as their opportunity to have a positive impact. Word is spreading that Respect isn’t just about players towards referees - it goes much wider than that.”

“Respect Week was planned to cover all aspects of the game - ranging from mini-soccer in grassroots up to a professional Football League match. Making these events successful relies on the participation of volunteers and employees at these clubs, who were helpful and worked alongside us to incorporate events into their schedules. Huge thanks go to all those involved. I hope another Respect Week can be scheduled for next season.”

● To learn more about Respect, visit thefa.com/respect. For information on grassroots football, head to essexfa.com, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and search for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.

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