Soccer player sues club for ‘trauma’

A soccer player with cross-channel ambitions is suing his former club for post-traumatic stress disorder for being excluded from a team as a 13 to 14-year-old.

Seán Cooke claims he was excluded from U-15 team after his father complained about the coaches.

Seán Cooke of Highfields, Ballea Road, Carrigaline, Co Cork, now aged 18, brought the case against Carrigaline United as a result of how he was allegedly treated by coaches.

Yesterday, he told Cork Circuit Court he was an extremely good player at the time but was not getting the games and not getting the chance to show his skills for talent scouts.

Barrister Mathew Maguire asked him why he stopped playing for the club. “Because I was not being treated right. I wasn’t being treated the way I should have been treated. I was told I was not good enough.”

He felt like he was being dropped from the team in the 2012/2013 season after playing 32 out of 33 matches in the previous season. Asked why he felt that occurred, he said: “Because they had a falling out with my dad.”

He said: “I went home and locked myself in my room. I smashed my phone against my wall. For that year I could not play.”

His father, Declan Cooke, said expressions of interest, at the time, were being shown from scouts in clubs including Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday. He said that after he brought a motion of no confidence in two coaches, everything soured for his son.

In the following season, his son only started two out of the first seven games.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said to the father: “You are going to have to distance yourself from himself and his career.” Mr Cooke replied: “Absolutely.” The judge said: “You have not done it yet, listen to what I am saying, you have not done it yet.”

The club’s Val Sextonwas called on behalf of the plaintiff. Defence barrister Kieran Hughes said it was unanimously decided by the management committee the coaches were doing an excellent job and the claim of victimisation and bullying was unproven. At that, Mr Sexton said: “The management committee is different from the sub-committee.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “This is about child soccer, under 15, you would want to cop on.”

Mr Hughes said that despite the disagreement between the plaintiff’s father and two coaches, the boy was played throughout that season. He was played less at the start of the following season because he was returning from a knee injury. The plaintiff disagreed strongly.

Psychologist Caroline Goldsmith said the plaintiff suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being excluded and allegedly being jeered at matches when he started playing for College Corinthians.

The case continues today.

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