Alan Birkett: If one of my kids bit another it would be the fault of a so-called hero they saw on TV

Coach's View: High-profile players like Suarez need to be aware of the influence they can have on youngsters

The latest incident involving Luis Suarez and Branislav Ivanovic highlights yet again the bad things in football that can influence the way that our children play the game.

Being a head coach at the largest kids' soccer school in the world, I see them pick up the good and the bad from what they watch their heroes do. It's brilliant to see all the children learning new soccer skills and tricks and copying their idols from the Premier League but, unfortunately, it's not the only thing they learn from their heroes.

At the Brazilian Soccer Schools we have young students from the age of five to 16 who learn skills named after players like the Ronaldo Chop, the Robinho Stepover and the Kaka Pivot – and they put them into practice at our sessions and on the football pitch.

Being a lifelong Liverpool fan myself, I would love to name one of our BSS samba moves after Luis and teach the children how to do it, but I would much prefer to call it the Suarez Turn as opposed to the Suarez Bite.

Suarez is one of the best turners of defenders in the world and would be an excellent addition to our list of South American superstar moves but can children actually have him as a role model if he behaves like he did on Sunday?

Professional footballers don't realise just how much they influence the way children play the game. At a session, the children will come in and you will hear them talking to each other saying things like. Did you see that move by Messi? Or, what a goal by Van Persie, and they will try to emulate all of these things. They want to learn stepovers and drag backs, and part of that is because they watch individual talented players and then try to do the moves themselves.

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the overhead kick against England the kids came into training and they wanted to try it. They model themselves on the players. I don't want them to come into a session and hear them saying did you see Suarez bite someone? When negative things like biting players happen they look at those as well.

I would be mortified if any of my students bit another. They would be severely reprimanded, sat out of the session, and be reported to their parents – and we would decide if they would be allowed back to future sessions. But it would be all down to one so-called "hero" that the child had copied from on the television.

A lot of diving at kids' level has come out of the professional game. Kids see players' diving and they do the same, rolling around on the ground as if they've been shot.

Abusing referees is another problem. They think they can get away with it. They model themselves on what they see on television where players surround the referee and the kids think it is okay to do same.

Some coaches and some parents criticise and shout at referees during kids' football matches, so what is a child to think when their three major sporting influences – professional players, parents and coaches – behave in this way?

The Suarez incident was disgraceful but was it any worse than the career-threatening tackles that go in and are also copied by the children?

Callum McManaman took out Massadio Haïdara and people were disgusted by it. The kids didn't realise what could have happened. They just saw the slide challenge. He can do that so I can do that, too. And we are now starting to witness a lot more badly timed slide tackles in children's matches. So, who is ultimately responsible when the kids get badly hurt?

Players like Suarez should think about how their behaviour is affecting the younger generations that look up to them and idolise them.

Alan Birkett is head coach at Brazilian Soccer Schools (Tyneside)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss