Boy celebrating a goal with arms in air

Respect and Reward Scheme Introduces Positive Football Ambassadors

Northumberland FA’s Respect & Reward scheme has returned for 2023/24 season

Northumberland FA’s Respect & Reward scheme has returned for 2023/24 season. The scheme allows referees to give Respect Marks to the players, coaches, and spectators, of the teams they officiate. These marks allow Northumberland FA to monitor behaviour across grassroots football and give reward and recognition to the teams that make grassroots football a positive and enjoyable experience for all. The scheme has now awarded over £2,500 worth of kit & equipment vouchers as rewards to the best scoring teams, as well as referees who are taking part. 

Thanks to our platinum partnership with Collingwood Insurance, we are proud to continue implementing the Respect & Reward scheme. This partnership not only ensures the sustainability of the scheme but also aims to bolster recruitment and retention of referees throughout the pathway. By emphasizing positive behaviours both on and off the field, we strive to create an environment conducive to the growth and enjoyment of grassroots football.

In addition to the return of the Northumberland FA’s Respect & Reward scheme for the 2023/24 season, several exciting developments are shaping the landscape of grassroots football in the region.

To further enhance our efforts, we are pleased to introduce a team of Positive Football Ambassadors (PFAs). These ambassadors will play a vital role in conducting "mystery shop" style observations at grassroots football events. Their invaluable feedback will help us maintain and elevate the standard of behavior, ensuring that football in our area remains 100% positive.

PFAs will be assigned to fixtures every week, completing ‘Mystery Shopper’ style visits. Their role is purely to observe and monitor behaviour of players, coaches, spectators, and the overall match day environment. They will complete a Match Observation Form which will be submitted to Northumberland FA. These will be reviewed, with feedback being provided to all Clubs who have Teams observed. This will include praise for Club’s creating positive environments and, where required, action points for where improvements could be made with ideas how this could be achieved.

Positive Football Ambassadors do not replace the referee as the sole decision maker, but where misconduct is reported, they will be able to provide additional evidence. Where misconduct has occurred that the referee has not witnessed clearly e.g. Spectator misconduct while a match is in full-flow, it will allow Northumberland FA to raise charges to help continue to take action against the minority that sadly detract from the amazing work done by the vast majority in the grassroots game who make football a great sport to be part of and facilitate its continued growth.

Dean Buckle, Head of Inclusion and Compliance, expressed the significance of these initiatives, stating, "At Northumberland FA, we believe that grassroots football should be a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved in the game.  We recognise the importance of observation, as it allows us to share best practice(s) on a larger scale and intervene at an earlier stage to upskill and educate, before poor behaviour becomes habitual. By appointing a number of Positive Ambassadors, we significantly enhance our ability to observe football matches and we anticipate the ambassadors will observe at least 300 games per season; this is In addition to the 100+ observations conducted each year by our staff team.  Mystery shopping is used in many industries to quality assess the reality of an experience, service or environment and for me, the insight that we will gain through our Positive Ambassador reports will help us to truly understand what’s working really well in grassroots football, along with highlighting the areas that may require additional focus and intervention.  I’m excited by the positive difference I expect this scheme will have.

Through the collaborative efforts of referees, players, coaches, spectators, and our dedicated ambassadors, we aim to cultivate a culture of respect and sportsmanship within grassroots football, enriching the experience for all involved.


Respect & Reward update