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Fernhill Soccer School coach ‘livid’ after South Lanarkshire Council refuses moveable goals

A FOOTBALL coach has hit out at council bosses after they refused his request for moving goals.

David O’Neil, who runs Fernhill Soccer School, says he is “absolutely livid” that South Lanarkshire Council won’t put the goals in place at Fernhill Community Center after seven months of asking.

Although he says there is “nothing wrong” with the current goals, David says he wanted goals with wheels put in place to be able to make the pitch smaller, and they have been installed at other sports and community centers in the area.

Glasgow Times:

He said: “The idea was if we got the rolling goals that you could move, we could have moved it up to the halfway line, we could have done wee drills, we could have made it better for five-a-sides for the adults.”

However, David claims the council said they won’t be able to put the goals in place as they need two members of staff to move them, and Fernhill Community Center has only one member of staff in the evening.

He has offered to pay for volunteers to be trained, but the council said it needs to be their staff due to insurance.

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He said: “They’re basically saying it’s two members of staff they need, but for me, I think that’s absolutely appalling.

“In a time like this when you’re trying to get kids fit, off the street, you’re getting hit with all this.

“I’m absolutely livid.

“I just can’t believe a set of goals would cause that much bother.

“It’s terrible, it really is.

“I’ve been trying to do as much as I can for the scheme and the area and I think it’s absolutely shocking that I can’t get a set of goals to move in because of health and safety red tape.”

He added: “Everybody is really angry about it but we felt as if they were against our area.

“That’s the way we felt because different areas have got them.”

Glasgow Times:

David set up Fernhill Soccer School, which is free to attend, around 10 years ago in an effort to get children off the street and playing football.

Each week, 60 young people, aged from three to 16-years-old, attend the club and he says it has been key in reducing fighting in the area.

Glasgow Times:

David said “I love the area Fernhill. I was brought up there and I do my best for all the kids.

“I started it [Fernhill Soccer School] to get the kids off the street, because I’ve got a grandson and a granddaughter, and I didn’t want them to get into the [gang] culture I got into.

“I do all the community work up there. I actually won two awards with South Lanarkshire Council for the work I do in the community.

“We’ve done well to get the gangs off the street.

“The gang fighting has virtually stopped in Fernhill, it used to be really, really bad.

“We’ve got boys from Castlemilk, Cathkin, Rutherglen, Blantyre, Calton coming up to Fernhill to play football on a Sunday, so it’s really a big community thing.

“Fernhill and Castlemilk were terrible at one time, you couldn’t walk into each other’s area, and then we managed to get them all together and playing together and we had coaches from Castlemilk coming up and helping us out.

“It brought us all together.”

David also runs an adult football club on Wednesday and Friday evenings, which he has done for around 26 years.

A spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture said: “We have met on several occasions with the soccer school in a bid to get a resolution to this matter.

“The goals they have requested require two members of staff, to be moved safely, in line with the product specification, and unfortunately there is only one member of staff on duty for the pitch.

“We have confirmed with other service providers that their goalposts also require a minimum of two members of staff to move them and this is confirmed in their associated risk assessments and safe systems of work.

“We have contacted a number of suppliers to ask if they can supply movable goalposts of the required size which could be moved by a single person, however, unfortunately, none of the suppliers or manufacturers can provide such a product.

“We are supportive of the work the soccer school carries out in the area and will continue to engage with them.”