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SOC IT TO 'EM Kids' soccer coach 'not sorry' for awards ceremony amid Covid row

The secretary of a Dundalk kids' soccer club denies there was a "mass gathering" and insists he "acted in the interests of the children's mental health" after medal presentation last weekend

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Stephen Fisher

Stephen Fisher

Stephen Fisher

A Co Louth schoolboys' soccer team secretary has hit back at criticism of a medal presentation amid Level 5 restrictions.

Young members of Redeemer Celtic in Dundalk were invited to pick up a prize for their achievements on the pitch at the side's home ground last Saturday.

But speaking to SundayWorld.com, organiser Stephen Fisher insisted the club did nothing wrong after the event came under scrutiny.

He told: "I will make no apologies to anyone for doing it.

"I acted in the interests of the children's mental health and would do the same again."

Under current Level 5 restrictions, no "organised outdoor gatherings" or "indoor or outdoor exercise group activities, including those involving children" are permitted.

One local source claimed: "I became aware of the event at around 12.50pm on Saturday and went over to see what was happening.

"When I arrived there were senior players from the club and parents of the underage players standing together along the pavement inside the grounds, and the kids were grouped together just outside the changing rooms.

"Stephen Fisher was handing out awards to the kids just inside the changing room door and, in terms of adults, there were approximately thirty or forty in attendance."

Responding to criticism, Mr Fisher argued that social distancing was just one of the safety measures observed at the outdoor ceremony.

"I put a post up on our Facebook page alongside photos of the presentations saying we were not sorry and I stand over that," he said.

"We took the temperatures of all the kids and ensured there was social distancing at all times.

"Parents and coaches were not allowed inside the grounds, and the kids deserved this for their efforts on the pitch last season.

"Our primary concern was the mental health of the kids - they haven't been together as friends or kicked a ball together since last November.

"Initially we considered going into the local schools and doing a presentation but we are not even allowed to do that.

"We are hearing that people are suggesting there was a mass gathering but that is certainly not the case.

"As far as we are concerned no FAI or Schoolboys Football Association rules have been broken and that is 100pc our belief," he continued.

"I'm not sorry I done it - I will never be sorry for putting a smile on a child's face.

"We understand we couldn't have a mass gathering at the event and we adhered to that.

"As a club we took it on ourselves to do this as a mental health initiative to give the kids a boost - that's all there is to it."

However, local youth football organisation Dundalk Schoolboys League confirmed it is set to investigate the matter.

A spokesperson told: "We received correspondence informing us that this event had taken place, and coincidentally at our monthly meeting on Monday night we also received correspondence from the FAI outlining the rules and regulations that are still in place regarding such events.

"We are now contacting the FAI to see what, if any, action we can take should we uncover any breach of regulations. We intend to speak to Stephen Fisher as part of an investigation."



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