Dad of young player blasts decision to suspend grassroots football in Lancashire
The decision by the Lancashire FA to suspend grass roots football has caused a real outcry among players, coaches - and parents.
Chorley dad Keith Molloy, who has three daughters who regularly play competitive football, is bitterly disappointed with the LFA decision to suspend adult and youth matches until January.
The LFA says it made the decision after consultation with local authorities and health issues and was simply complying with recommendations.
But those who oppose the suspension say it was agreed despite the national ban now coming to an end, and on the LFA Facebook page there have been more than 500 posts slamming the move.
One stated: "What an absolutely ridiculous decision! Their physical and mental health should be a priority."
Keith, 59, agrees with those sentiments.
He said: "Speaking as a dad, I am disgusted at the decision of the LFA to suspend grass roots soccer.
"Once again our young people are the collateral damage of poorly considered and weighted decision-making."
Keith's daughters, aged 15, 18 and 29, all play the sport but he is particularly disappointed for his youngest daughter, Megan, who is captain of the Euxton Under-18 girls side.
He said: "Football is an essential part of their lives - especially for Megan,
"She and her team mates are in the majority in their GCSE year and being able to train and play football at the moment is genuinely the one thing they’ve been able to cling to in helping retain something in their lives remotely close to normality.
"She and all her team mates and the coaches have worked so hard in pre-season but just as the things got going, we had another lockdown in November.
"And now that it's finally over, they still can't play."
Keith argues that the FA has not provided any evidence that playing football increases the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19.
He said: "I could understand it for a sport like rugby, in which there is much greater physical contact as part of the actual sport.
" But many grassroots football clubs have gone to such a huge effort to bring in safety measures - sanitising the balls, minimising the presence of parents in training.
"To suspend things now is just a huge slap in the face, everyone at the club is gutted and I know everyone else in the grassroots football feels the same."
LFA chief executive Simon Gerrard said the decision followed talks with local authorities and health officials.
It comes at a time when Lancashire has been in tier three since England came out of lockdown on Wednesday last week, with the county placed under the "high risk" category for possible infections..
The areas affected by the suspension are Ribble Valley, Preston and South Ribble. Burnley, Hyndburn ,Pendle, Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen.
Former footballer Robbie Savage is among those supporting the return of grassroots sports football.