Wales bans smoking on the sidelines of children’s football matches
Written by on 29 September 2020
Smoking has been banned on the sidelines of children’s football matches in Wales.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) has announced the move in a bid to “denormalise” smoking and prevent youngsters from taking it up in the future.
The ban will affect more than 3,000 teams across 522 clubs – totalling some 42,000 players.
A trial of the policy was carried out in Rhondda & District Football League’s mini and junior football games, as well the South Wales Women’s and Girl’s League junior matches.
The ban is aimed at “small-sided” football games in the country.
Small-sided football has its own set of guidelines to ensure it is enjoyable and is played by children aged 5 to 11, although the upper limit is set to rise to 12 next season and 13 in 2022-2023.
Other rules for children’s football in Wales include discouraging heading the ball, making sure both teams have the same number of players, and making sure everyone has a go in each position.
According to research from Action on Smoking and Health Wales, 82% of Welsh adults support banning smoking on the sidelines.
The Welsh parliament’s health minister Vaughan Gething said: “I welcome the work undertaken by the FAW to ban smoking on the sidelines of all small-sided football games in Wales.
“Voluntary bans like this one help protect children from seeing smoking as an acceptable and normal behaviour and can help prevent them from taking up smoking in the first place.”
An FAW statement said: “The smoke-free sidelines measure makes FAW part of a small, but growing number of UEFA member associations to adopt and enforce no smoking policies at small-sided football games.
“Research has shown that children are highly influenced by the behaviour of adults in their lives, including parents and sports coaches.
“Children with a parent who smokes are 70% more likely to smoke themselves in Wales.”
It added that the policy would also protect children from exposure to second-hand smoke.