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Where now for the forgotten ones?

September 20, 2009

The ‘beautiful’ game. One of excitement, passion, skill, determination, hard-graft, controversy, joy, and despair. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the game we all love that we forget about the bad, the ugly, and the downright shocking side of the game that we perhaps can’t see directly.

That’s a side of the game that allows young kids, some my age, some younger, and some older, to be pointlessly kept at a Football club, before having the humilation and pain of being released into the open.

Football produces many many talents. Superstars, megastars, and in some cases even celebrities. However, it’s only a select few that actually make it to this level. So what of the forgotten ones?

I’m a person speaking from experience. When I was 12/13 years of age, I was a part of an academy set up at my local Football League club, who currently play in League 2 along with the now extremely wealthy Notts County. Having played for the club for two seasons, scored the only goal of a national competition against West Brom, and done pretty much nothing wrong, I was sent away without so much as an explanation.

I remember that moment very clearly, and I’m sure I always will. There were about 15-20 of us sat in the changing room, not knowing what was happening, before the coach walked in and plonked himself on the bench inbetween a couple of lads. He then preceeded, in a very Sir Alan Sugar type way, to send us off one-by-one with the words “you can leave now”. I had no idea what this meant. Do I go and come back tomorrow? Do I go and never come back? Surely this isn’t the way a 13-year old Football-mad boy, who has dreams of playing for his local club and beyond should be treated.

I guess I was lucky being so young, as I still had my education ahead of me. Quite the contrast to a guy who’s cousin I’ve played with for 5 years at my Sunday League club Ludlow Town. I won’t name names, and I won’t mention the club he was involved with, but lets just say they’re a huge club, and you can find him on Football Manager 2009.

Having been with the club for 3 years, player x (as I’ll refer to him) was this year released from his contract and left to find his own way. He has no qualifications, no aspirations other than to play Football, and no guidance. He was a regular for the club’s reserves, playing alonside players who have gone on to make their Premier League debuts, and successfully at that. At one stage, he asked to be loaned out due to his frustration at not progressing through to the first team, but the club refused, instead keeping him playing for the reserves, where he would gain no experience, and wouldn’t improve his game at all.

He now plies his trade with a side playing in the Zamaretto Premier League. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. He’s received no backing, no help or support from his previous club, and due to that he has no qualifications to go out and find a job. He applied to Npower for work, but they rejected him, and now he’s resorted to helping out a friend at the Shropshire council. If this is correct treatment of a budding young player, then Michael Jackson is not dead.

Another story I’ve been told about is that of a friend of my Father’s, who used to play for the youth team of a now Championship club. One day, he walked into the changing room before a training session only to be greeted by the words “what the f*** are you doing here? You’ve been released. F*** off”. Clearly distressed, the player found it hard to come to terms with such treatment and hasn’t been involved in Football since.

These are just 3 cases out of thousands every year. Young player’s dreams shattered by horrific treatment from clubs, and just left to do their own thing. Every single club should have a policy in place whereby they can help their young players with education, finding a job, and just getting to grips with everyday life after Football.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t look like happening. Football clubs don’t care about who they release, or how they do it. To them, it is no concern. All they are interested in is making sure the players that they do keep on become the best. It’s sad, very sad, but this is the reality of Football nowadays. It has to stop.


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2009 1:23 pm

    Well you didn’t do too bad finding WDKF! =D Who knows you could go on into football journalism like we all want to!

  2. Shallowgirl permalink
    September 22, 2009 4:03 pm

    Unfortunately so many of these young men are seen as a disposable commodity and the clubs don’t have the funds available or the inclination to help them move on to other clubs. Also, a lot of people are involved in football who don’t have the “people skills” (i.e. are a bit thick) and don’t know how to handle these situations. The least a club should have is a policy for handling their young charges in a civilised, polite manner. Probably asking too much! Good to know that you rose above your treatment at a young age and still play.

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