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13 October 2014

Gillingham FC shows its support to the Football Association's Respect Campaign

Gillingham FC has helped kick start the seventh season of the FA’s Respect programme.

Ahead of this week’s Set Your Stall weekend, Gillingham FC and Gillingham Ladies FC have shown their support to Kent FA’s work promoting the Respect message in Kent.

The FA began the Respect programme in 2008 in response to widespread concern that the game was, on some occasions, being distorted or ruined at all levels by abusive behaviour.

Since the Respect programme was launched, there has been pleasing signs of improvement.

•             On the field of play all dissent cautions are down by 20%, all dismissals by 13%, misconduct charges by 10%

•             We now have 28,000 registered referees up from circa 23,000 in 2008

•             In the top 16 leagues and divisions in this country, the total number of dissent cautions has fallen by 25% (Premier League by 21%, Championship by 28%)

Specifically in the county, Kent FA’s implementation of the Respect programme has seen outstanding results.

In the final half of last season, Kent FA recorded a 21% decrease in 'Respect’ related offences, thanks in part, to our Youth Council's award-winning SWEARING – Let’s Tackle It campaign.

The Youth Council delivered a fantastic campaign to support Respect and consequently have been selected winners in the Respect Award category at next week’s Football Futures Awards.

The Kent FA’s work to implement the Respect programme across the county has also been reflected in the number of Kent clubs and teams whose dedicated work has been rewarded. Gravesham Girls and Ladies Football Club and Vinters Football Club recently received Youth Sport Trust awards for Respect.

Kent was also recognised at annual FA Respect awards with The Kent County Football League winning an award after distinguishing themselves from many other excellent entrants by an approach which focuses on supporting clubs through difficult times rather than simply reverting to fines.

The Kent Youth League was also given Commended Status and a bronze award for their work with the Kent FA around the Respect programme.

Finally, the courage of Eythorne Rover’s Welfare Officer Jackie Smith, who stood to a gang of thugs that had invaded and stopped a youth fixture intent on trouble, won her a ‘People’s Award’.

Kent FA enjoyed a very successful season further embedding the Respect programme at all levels of the game. What this means in reality is a more positive and enjoyable environment for the game to take place in and because of this it’s much more likely that they keep coming back week after week  - whether as players, referees, parents or spectators.

Kent FA’s Football Development Officer, Natalie Curtis, encouraged clubs and leagues to follow Gills example and support the campaign: “We’re delighted that Gillingham FC have shown their support for the upcoming Set Your Stall weekend. As the only Football League club in Kent, it’s brilliant to see the players and staff supporting our work from the off.

“The fact both the men’s and women’s teams, besides younger aged teams at the club, have demonstrated their support reflects the versatility of this programme. Respect is about instilling good, strong beliefs across the game to enable as many people as possible to take part and enjoy the game.

“I hope Gillingham’s example will encourage other clubs and teams to get in touch as we’ve a whole host of tools to support people’s endeavours and look forward to seeing what further innovative and ground-breaking activity our professional and volunteer workforce produces over this season.”

Gills midfielder Jake Hessenthaler said: “We are more than happy to show our support for Set your Stall weekend and the respect program in general.

“Looking at the figures it is clear it has had a positive impact on the game and hopefully it will continue to do so.”

To help support clubs and teams in this important work, a range of new resources to communicate the Respect message have been made available for FREE for Kent clubs. These include touchline barriers, Respect signage, armbands, sleeve badges, posters, bootlaces, codes of conduct and many other promotional items.

If you’d like to learn more or receive resources to help promote the Respect programme, email or contact 01622 792140

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