by Tony Attwood
Imagine this scenario. You have a son or daughter who is clearly very talented as a footballer. A League club takes an interest and enrols the young person in one of their junior teams.
Everything goes well, until the youngster gets injured and the feeling of the medics is that because of the injury the young person will never make the grade previously anticipated.
OK, that’s a sadness and a tragedy. Except that by chance you then find out that in order to enhance the progress of the young person the club has been using a form of training that, while it can enhance strength and stamina, and develop specific muscles that are helpful in playing football, is inherently dangerous.
You discover in fact that all over the place there are multiple parents who are saying that their son or daughter is not making the grade because of early injury. The number of such cases you find is extraordinarily high.
This is not to say that the player has been given drugs to make muscles develop at an enhanced rate, but rather that training techniques and indeed even training surfaces, which are known to work for some players, but which have a very high injury rate in many others, are being overused in a variety of clubs when they shouldn’t be.
Obviously, that is all very sad; the youngster and the family will be devastated. But, wait a moment…
The training methods used, the surfaces on which training took place, the immediacy with which the player is removed from training, the medical care given after that… supposing there are questions in each of these areas which basically lead to the thought that the club was cutting corners, and acting without due care and attention to the young players well-being.
In short, the club could have noticed the first sign of a twinge (for example), and pulled back, allowing the young player to recover. It could have ensured that the youngster always trained on the right sort of surface. But it didn’t; it went all out for quick recovery methods and then straight back into the training programme that caused the problem in the first place.
And the inevitable happens. The player breaks down maybe for the second time, and that’s it, the career is over. Very sorry, says the club, that’s how it goes. Next youngster, please.
Now at this point, if you were the parent of the devasted youngster, you may wonder here, surely the club has some liability – after all they are acted in what might be called a reckless manner.
But now here’s a thought. Supposing you discover that it is not just your son or daughter to whom this has happened, but it is happening to many youngsters, not just in the club you know, but it lots of clubs.
And… and this is the killer …. Suppose you start to get the notion that everyone in the game knows that youngsters are being overtrained on the wrong surfaces in multiple clubs as a way of saving money. But that no one is saying a word, no one will provide any evidence or other cases, and everyone shrugs the shoulders.
That would mean that this club and multiple other clubs can do it and get away with over training because there is no shortage of talented youngsters coming through, and of course starry-eyed parents and their children don’t really know too much about what surface causes what injury.
Now you might say, “hang on, surely someone is going to blow the whistle and expose the fact that multiple clubs are being reckless.”
But there’s the problem. If multiple clubs are engaged in this activity, who is going to speak out? And come to that where is the totally independent body that would fearlessly look into the issue and expose league clubs for malpractice?
And then suddenly at this moment, you might remember the child sex abuse scandal that went on in multiple clubs for decades which many, many people seemed to know about, and which no one spoke out about.
And at this point, you might start to wonder once again, who is there to investigate football who is completely independent, and cannot be influenced by the football community in any way?
I will leave you to ponder that for a little while, before the next piece, in which I will try and provide what turns out to be a very worrying answer.
- The biggest scandal in football: who is checking on how clubs behave? Part two.
- The biggest scandal in football: no one is checking what’s going on Part 3
- Arsenal v the team that will present a giant toothbrush to our captain
- Arsenal squad for Europa League game
- The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context
- Why Arsenal v Glimt might be tougher than the game against Tottenham
- Is the team that passes the most, the team that gets the best results?