As the mother of a little football fanatic, let's just say that I am well versed in the drama and tension that generally accompanies a love of the beautiful game.
But I'd be a bit miffed if my son was asked to sign a contract before he could indulge his love of football in the school playground. Yet that's exactly what pupils at a primary school in England have been asked to do.
The Metro reports:
"The contracts, which Forthill Primary School sent out to pupils in Primary 5, 6 and 7, contain 17 separate clauses which forbid hogging the ball, foul tackles or being a sore loser."
The full contract reads:
I will not deliberate foul tackles
I will not carry issues off the pitch to class or after school
I will not argue an agreed out or an agreed foul
I will not hog the ball
I will not name call or tease
I will not chant, use banter or wahoys!
I will not gloat or boast
I will not, if scorekeeping be a sore loser and will congratulate the other team
I will not elbow or shoulder barge
I will not deliberately chase on the pitch or swipe the ball from people
I will not cheat
I will keep up with my school work
I will demonstrate sportsmanlike conduct and apologising
I will use timeouts for myself as individual players if needed
I will use supportive and encouraging language
I will take turns in position
I will ensure teams are fair and no swapping
I understand a school resorting to implementing some rules about playground football - my son routinely comes home with tales of foul play and mean-spirited banter that make my eyes water - but this strikes me as a little heavy-handed.
We're talking about kids, after all, who in part learn by making mistakes. I reckon premiership players would struggle to adhere to a contract as comprehensive as this, never mind little kids who are supposed to get carried away at playtime.
I just don't think it's realistic to expect children to attain to this degree of impeccable behaviour during something as emotive as a football game. Supportive and encouraging language?! Might as well ask them all to sit down quietly in a corner and be seen but not heard.
That said, I see the value in trying to teach kids how to behave on the football pitch. I certainly wish hogging the ball, name-calling and boasting weren't as much part of football culture as they seem to be among my son's squad of footie-loving friends. I just don't think this is the way to go about it and I'm surprised that the school hasn't employed a more creative approach to bringing out the best in kids on the football pitch.
In the event that child breaks "any of the agreed expectations", staff members have the right to review the child's contract and that child will be banned from playing for:
Three days on the first occurrence
One week on the second occurrence
The remainder of the term for a third violation
Offenders may even need to "demonstrate initiative to be allowed back on the pitch".
I think something's seriously amiss when schools start penalising kids for simply being kids. Why single out the football fans and approach their on-pitch antics in such a negative way? Why not run a personal and social development class or two on sportsmanship, and reward it on the pitch instead of issuing unreasonable contracts?
We'd like to hear your thoughts on this story. Would you welcome a contract like this to help keep playground football friendly, or do you think it's placing unreasonable expectations on children who are, after all, supposed to be allowed to let off steam at lunch time? Leave us a comment below or join the debate on our Facebook page.