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Charlie Webster - Football needs better role models

Published: 04 Mar 2011 - 12:10:48

I've found football a little depressing this week. For one it's looking like my football team, Sheffield United, are going to be paying a visit to League One at the end of the season.

Secondly, each morning I've been presenting on Sky Sports News it's been a discussion about Ashley Cole and his incident with a rifle - I still wonder exactly what that was all about and why he hasn't been properly punished - or Wayne Rooney's obvious elbow that also went unpunished.

Then the disgraceful hassle that referee Calum Murray got from the players in the Old Firm match. I'm sure you saw it but at one point he had six or more players surrounding him and trying to put his card back in his pocket. In addition to that there was El-Hadji Diouf's behaviour and Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon's nearly all out and out scrap.

On Thursday I was sat on a panel show with Neil Ashton, John Scales and Terry Neill regarding 'the beautiful game' how ironic after all I've just described.

The topics that were discussed were far from beautiful, I did add a bit to the condemning of football I have to admit. I talked about role models in football, a certain Ashley Cole's name came up quite a few times, and the influence they have globally. A gentleman in the audience during the debate told us that he was coaching a group of boys and one of them kept spitting all the time, including on a fellow player.

The coach asked why he kept doing it when he'd been told to stop. He answered 'because that's what you do in football to look like a proper football player. They all do it so why can't I?' That one example alone shows how important it is for the younger generation to have GOOD role models.

Next we'll be hearing 'why on earth do you bring a rifle to training and shoot somebody?' with a reply of 'why not? Ashley Cole did it and he still got to play his next game.'

Terry Neill seemed to think that kids didn't need role models in football and they should look to themselves and their own responsibilities. I whole-heartedly disagreed. In fact, myself and Terry pretty much disagreed on everything! He did run over and give me a cuddle at the end and was very complimentary though.

Neil Ashton told of when he was giving a talk to a group of young people and all they kept asking him was whether he'd met the likes of Ashley Cole, John Terry, Wayne Rooney and what they were like.

Of course, kids need role models to look up to, to be influenced by and aspire too. Neil and myself agreed that David Beckham is a fantastic example, he works unbelievably hard and his passion for football outweighs everything.

The worry we all agreed on amongst the panel is that the younger generation are starting to aspire to be footballers in order to be rich superstars rather than just because they love and want to play the game.

The role-model issues off the pitch swing on to it; Wayne Rooney's elbow and the hassle toward referee Murray to name just a few this week.

It's the same as above if professional players can behave like that then it's ok for young aspiring players to too. Terry made a good point that if the rugby concept of being sin binned was introduced as has been talked about periodically, then the players would soon start to behave.

Or as soon as a player was rude and disrespectful to the referee they should be sent off, no leeway allowed. Terry said it would soon stop them from doing it and massively improve discipline on the field. The problem is there is too much inconsistency in the discipline of football.

Now I did try and move the discussion around to the amazing positive influence the actual game can have on people's lives. Some of the work being done at grassroots in the UK restores all faith.

The problem being, sorry another problem, is at the moment it's in small pockets. In this country we have some amazing facilities but a lack of a system within coaching as a whole. There are so many people whose lives have been turned around through football. I wish the FA could do more to see that.

As I'm sure you can imagine the debate was soon turned to sexism in football. The question I was asked was 'do you think women have a place in football?' I think I'll leave that to another blog another time.

Next week I'll be writing about my FA Level Two coaching as it's my practical exams next week. Oh dear, I think I've just answered the above question.DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Charlie Webster
Charlie Webster is one of the brightest young female sports presenters around. Charlie currently reports for BBC’s Football Focus and is an established presenter for Sky Sports. Prior to this she presented live Premiership football for ESPN in Asia, and was the face of Real Madrid TV, interviewing the likes of Zidane, Beckham and Casillas. Charlie’s love for sport has taken her all across the world. She ran her first marathon in Singapore in 2006, and since then has competed in five more, raising thousands of pounds for good causes including the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research and Women’s Aid UK. A fanatical Sheffield United fan, Charlie’s blog will present an insight into football that is rarely explored; from a woman’s perspective! She will be giving her expert opinion on the Premier League, covering all topics on and off the pitch. Follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieCW.

You can visit Charlie's website at: www.charliewebster.com

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