Here is a humbling story. A proud and dedicated man tried his best to run a team for young boys in his area of Manchester. He's African, has no money, the parents of his players have no money, they lack kit and they can't afford to pay the pitch fees for a 3G pitch which has been paid for with local authority and sports industry funding. Some of his kids are on remand or in care and can't get to play. The parents of the visitors from a wealthy area stump up for the pitch when they are due to play, but this proves to be their last match and his team have to withdraw from the league.
Here's a shocking story. A 16 year old referee is reduced to tears as a result of the abuse he gets from parents and managers at a team in the same league. He is a keen referee, he had a marginal offiside decision to make that was disputed, but he doesn't have anyone running the line. He isn't prepared to put up with it any longer. The game is abandoned at half time.
Here's another depressing story. A 10 year old boy is struggling to tie his laces so his coach helps him. The referee swears at the coach and tells him to get a move on.
There is an appalling lack of perspective throughout kids football. The need to win at all costs, the shrill cheers of parents who think they're watching the European Cup Final, the dreadful treatment of referees, the coaching of gamesmanship (cheating), the poor quality of the pitches, the petulance of children following the example of the moaners, divers and over-celebrators by bringing their own versions of this to the game. I feel angry as a parent for bringing my sons into this environment. And I feel foolish for giving time as a volunteer to a sport where the efforts and endeavors of people like the African chap from Manchester, or the manager of our team and so many other people involved in teams and leagues seem to be doing so against a tide of lousy and loutish conduct.
But you can't let the bad guys win. It surely is worth maintaining dignity and standards. Not for our sake, but for the kids. Afterall, as Jim White asked in his book about kids football - who is it for?
POSTSCRIPT: The incident with the referee today is being investigated by the league and though I would like to say more about it, I better not.