Youth football teams launch petition to improve sports ground and protest at the rising cost of paying to play
Sunday league football teams are considering a day of protest because they claim the borough’s pitches are not safe to play on.
Teams in the Cheshunt Youth Football League have launched an online petition to improve the standard of football pitches across Enfield with some teams postponing matches for fear of injury.
In a meeting between teams, Alf Fajardo, development officer at the league, stated that the £1,570 price tag for eleven-a-side pitches on a Sunday for the highest grade pitch was ‘ludicrous’.
He said: “We have had meetings with council officers to stop the increase in prices but nothing has changed. It is completely ludicrous and quite frankly a joke that these pitches are classed as grade A when they are not fit for purpose.
“I have been in football for years surveying pitches. The day will come when something happens, one of the goals will fall down and it will injure someone. We saw a goal fall down on its own at Jubilee Park.
“Teams cannot pay £1,500 for this product any longer; it is like going into a shop and only getting a left shoe and not a right.”
Several other football teams expressed concerns with square goalposts and pitch lines not being redrawn after games on Albany Park, Ponders End recreation ground and Brackendale Park.
Mick Breen, of Percival football club, told the Enfield Independent he had postponed matches this season deeming it too unsafe for his team to play.
He said: “We have called off games for the first few weeks because the pitch is not safe at Durants Park. The goals are unsafe and there is concrete around the posts which would seriously injure a goalkeeper if they dived onto it.
“We would be happy to pay money for pitches that are grade A but these are far from it. Obesity and gang levels in Enfield are already high and without youth football, those numbers are only going to go up.”
Stelios Tritios, of GFA Enfield, has been forced to play his teams games at Wilbury Primary School and told the Enfield Independent that his sides could not play on the pitches any longer.
He said: “We had to move from Albany Park because the pitch was substandard; we had a drain in the middle of the pitch, the goalposts were swinging and people were driving mopeds across the pitch.
“Enfield has one of the lowest levels of Astroturf and third generation pitches in the country.”
Since the 2008/2009 season, there has been a reduction in clubs from 64 to 36 and Mr Fajardo believes that things are only getting worse.
He added: “We need to stand up to these prices and get the product we deserve. We supply the corner flags, referees and balls for games, all the council supplies is the pitch and it is totally unacceptable that these pitches are not being delivered to the price we are asked to pay.
“We have launched an online petition and we will, if it comes to it, boycott all Sunday league matches and the council needs to stand up and listen. Enfield will lose its biggest customer if we back out and that department will close.
“This cannot go on like this and we need to change the council’s mindset. Not one team can say they are getting value for money and youth football will die out.”
The league are preparing a report of football pitches in the borough to deliver to the council to show the extent of the pitches.
An Enfield Council spokesman said: “Enfield Council is a passionate supporter of youth football and is committed to providing good quality sporting facilities across the borough.
“We have been working with a number of teams over the last six months to identify areas of improvement and will continue to do so in the coming years.
“We strongly dispute the allegations that any of our football pitches are unsafe. Referees have the final say on whether or not a game should be cancelled on safety grounds and that has not happened in Enfield so far this season. We are not aware that any of last weekend’s matches were cancelled.
“Because of the large volume of training sessions the council carries out a continuous programme of reinstatement work and after inspection prior to the weekend’s games, September 21 and 22, all the goal posts were securely installed.”