Children’s voices in mini soccer: an exploration of critical incidents

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Since being adopted by The English Football Association as the preferred format of football to be played by children aged 10 and under, mini soccer has evolved and expanded into a popular activity for children. Yet little is known about the experiences of those participating in the game. In addition, adult-organized activities such as mini soccer are increasingly seen by parents and adults as suitable pursuits for their children to participate in. Yet the perspective of the child participating in mini soccer, as with many other activities, is largely ignored in academic literature. This is especially true in the social sciences, where research has historically been done ‘on’ children, rather than ‘with’ children. In this study, we seek to address this imbalance by including children as active participants in the research process. In doing so, we devised a methodology based on audiovisual methods to create participatory conditions between children and researchers interested in investigating their experiences of mini soccer in England. Children were asked to identify aspects of their experience which they felt were noteworthy to create video recordings of critical incidents that directly involved them participating in mini soccer. These were used as a discussion tool in focus groups to explore how and why children felt the incidents were critical, and how their experience of them shaped their participation. The methodology employed helped capture children’s differentiated views of the same incidents, and highlighted the diversity of their experiences. It is recommended that similar audiovisual methodologies are employed to inform future policy and strategy development in grassroots football that includes children as participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-826
Number of pages17
JournalSoccer & Society
Issue number6
Early online date23 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


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