Stevenage boy, 8, dropped from football team for not playing well enough

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD boy has been left devastated after being told in front of his peers that he is dropped from a youth football team for not being a good enough player. Lisa Arbon-Donovan, of Fairview Road in Stevenage, told The Comet this is what happened

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD boy has been left devastated after being told in front of his peers that he is dropped from a youth football team for not being a good enough player.

Lisa Arbon-Donovan, of Fairview Road in Stevenage, told The Comet this is what happened to her son, Finley, last week.

He was a member of Stevenage Borough Juniors FC until he and two other little children were dropped from competitive matches on Tuesday last week.

She said the children were informed of their exclusion in front of all the other children on the Bluesox team, and as a result of Finley's humiliation she made the decision to remove him from the club altogether.


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"Our entire motivation for taking him was to get him out in the fresh air, doing exercise, and learning to be part of a team," she said.

"Unfortunately Finley has learnt that you are either good or you are out.

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"The ability of the players at this age should never determine whether they play or not."

She added: "While the Government is trying desperately to battle obesity and get everyone off the sofa, this is incomprehensible."

Ms Arbon-Donovan said the youngsters after every game are subjected to a 25-minute "screaming tirade" from the three coaches, who criticise the children's ability and commitment.

"This does nothing but demoralise them, and ultimately affects their ability to play as a team," she said.

"Children respond to praise and encouragement."

She said Finley has asked what he did wrong to be excluded from competitive matches, and whether it is because he is not liked.

Spokesman for the team, vice chairman and child welfare officer Matthew Hurst, told The Comet a complaint had not been received from Ms Arbon-Donovan.

But The Comet has seen a written complaint from the livid mother, and a response to it from coach Ernie Bradwell.

He wrote: "We decided to pull three players from competitive matches as we considered they were not getting out of that participation what they should at this point in time.

"Maybe what you see and hear at the end of games is down to the frustration that, after the time and effort we have put in, and allowing the players these opportunities, some appear as if they couldn't be bothered to try.

"Maybe we are guilty of allowing players the opportunity to play when they don't have the ability."

He stated that at Easter the coaches will be able to work closer with the three excluded children, with a view to "reintroducing them to competitive matches in a controlled way".

Nick Perchard, chief executive of the Hertfordshire County Football Association, said: "Under 9s is the first year competitive football is played. Having said that, it's their opportunity to learn the game and it's not about winning. It should never be about winning at that age.

"If the parent made a complaint to us we would certainly have a word with the club to see what action we could take.

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