By Alb B
This article discusses the amateur game from the point of view of football clubs in London.
Amateur football clubs in London, from small 5 a side up to 11 a side, is an activity that takes place every weekend if not every day up and down this great city. Most players enjoy the game well into their old age but a few of them often end their game early. This can be for many reasons with the most common one being through injury.
As the clue in the word amateur suggests, non-professional players not only don’t get paid to play but in fact they need to pay for various expenses to participate in association football. Such costs can vary but the bottom line is that players need to be able to afford at least £6 per game. This is due to fact that organisers have no funds whatsoever to cover for the expenses needed to run amateur clubs but theirs is a work of love with no pay or glory.
The glory of professional footballers is often backed up by rivers of liquid capital invested in them with professional players earning up to 250K a week. Mirroring the glory of professional football in the amateur world is impossible in every aspect imaginable. Yet when amateur players commit to tackles which very often go badly they claim “I got the ball” or it was a “50/50”. Although the tackle may have lead to a broken leg, they still claim to have gotten the ball; they still claim it was 50/50. Such claims are acceptable in the professional game but players participating in amateur football work all week to feed their family, often their weekly income being the minimum sum of £250 and never £250 thousand.
So breaking their leg in a 50/50 tackle not only keeps the player off the pitch for at least 9 months but could prevent them from working for between one week and six months. Obviously amateur football organisers have no funds to help with the recovery or helping the player pay their bills while they are out of work.
However, organisers and footballers build strong emotional bonds being part of the team or the club and when such situations arise they demonstrate a high level of solidarity.
Take for example London Town FC, a small amateur football club based in London. In an “I got the ball” tackle that went horribly wrong, their main striker Robert Dermaku broke his leg. As Alex Preston, a player from the opposing team on the day described it “The sound of his long leg breaking was like a dry branch snapping.”
Following the club’s proposal to generate some funds through donations to help Rob cope with life while his leg heals, members managed to raise £550; with one of their kind-hearted, senior members having donated 60% of the total amount.
However little this may be compared to the staggering expenses one has to pay to keep living in London, the moral of the story is that as in Fabrice Muamba’s case where the football world came to a standstill, in Rob’s case his team mates and players from the opposing team showed solidarity to help him out in this difficult time.
Solidarity among amateur footballers though needs to reach a level of prevention of such occurrences becoming the norm. Arguments such as “50/50” and “I got the ball” at any cost need not come down from professional football because we the amateur football lovers cannot afford being out of work for weeks if not months.
With that in mind, safety and solidarity in our game should go hand in hand.