skip navigation

Grassroots Series - Small club, big ambitions

By Staff, 03/21/17, 9:45AM EDT


St. Thomas SC makes Respect in Sport Mandatory for Competitive Program

A club who has long embraced Long Term Player Development is now adding RIS programming to their toolkit for development

Sheldon Kennedy's recent Ontario Soccer Summit keynote speech has definitely sent a chill throughout the soccer community. 

For those who were in attendance to hear the speech by the Co-Founder or Respect Group, the statistics he shared on abuse were staggering.

For those who weren't able to attend, the full speech is now available online. 

But even before Kennedy's speech, clubs in Ontario have been embracing the programming because they see the need for it in their communities. 

One such club is St. Thomas Soccer Club.

Made up of 2,500 players, ranging from ages 4 to 80, they were early adopters for the Long Term Development Program (LTPD). 

For Rob Cameron, St. Thomas' Club president, Respect in Sport is a natural extension of that approach. 

"In terms of LTPD, the proof is in the teams coming out of it. You see it in the kids that have had that programming all the way along and the whole team is much, much stronger than kids in previous years," Cameron said. 

"But from a parent perspective, we still need some work to do there in terms of complete buy-in and that’s where Respect in Sport comes in."

Cameron and St. Thomas have made Respect in Sport mandatory for the entire competitive program, which includes 21 teams and around 300 players. 

"I can’t count the amount of parents that have been kicked out of soccer games over the years," Cameron said. " We host four tournaments a year, but the amount of parents that get removed from our tournaments because of their conduct, it’s staggering. We've seen some of that creeping into our community."

And while it can often be difficult to get people on board with new programming, Cameron said the response has been good. 

"I haven’t had any negative responses whatsoever. When we rolled it out, basically what we included was some of the issues that hockey has had. And you see it in the news week after week after week, with parents being arrested or kicked out of games." 

For Cameron and St. Thomas, which was formed in 1965, they're taking the proactive approach in the modern age.

By the end of 2017, all parents of kids in the competitive program must have taken the course. 

"What we’re doing is a one-year phase in. This year, the parents all know about it, have been told about it and then for next season, if the parents have not completed it, their kids will not be able to register until it is finalized." 

If you're interested in implementing Respect in Sport at your club, contact your local administrator for more information. 

Click here to visit the Respect in Sport website. 

Click here for more information on Respect in Sport in Ontario.