What does the IFA spirit actually mean?
It’s a question that has been debated a number of times down the years. The following is our interpretation of the spirit in which we like our games to be played. One thing is not in any doubt – The aim of the IFA always has been and always will be to build bridges between groups of fans of different clubs by playing a friendly game of football. Though we do run League and Cup competitions, and everyone wants to win while wearing their team shirt, the focus is on the word friendly.
Put simply, we encourage good natured banter between our teams and believe games should be played with smiles on faces. This means there should be little or no handbags with the opposition, disputing decisions with referees or linesmen and no arguing with or abusing opponents, team-mates or match officials. If a decision goes against your team, the captain or manager should have a word with the referee where appropriate and if you foul an opponent you are expected to pick them up if needed, or shake their hand.
We’re not naïve – We all know those little moments that can flare up in a game of football, and no-one is expecting such Corinthian spirit to shine through 100% of the time. But the IFA has survived this long because it’s different from the average football league and it’s up to every player, every manager and every team to ensure flare-ups are few and far between, and dealt with quickly when they happen. We allow rolling subs for this very reason – if someone on your team is acting up, sub them for ten minutes. That sharpens the mind more than a yellow card! Ask persistent offenders to change their ways or find another club.
Off the pitch, all of our teams are expected to do their level best to travel across the UK to play games. The IFA was built on our teams playing one another in the morning on a day when their supported clubs are playing each other in the afternoon, or travelling to play a nearby team when your supported team are in the area. This should always remain at the core of every team’s activities.
So please bear in mind your responsibilities to the IFA’s good name, whenever you represent your club. We are very clear about equality of opportunity and all players and those involved in IFA football should not only be aware of our rules regarding this, but should also do everything in their power to uphold those rules. Everyone of us is responsible for this.
And always remember – IFA football is not just about winning. It’s about taking part and building bridges between rival sets of supporters. That’s why we’re here.