Thursday 21 November 2019

Teen who sued football team for 'PTSD' after being dropped by coach loses case

Sean Cooke at Cork District Court with his parents Declan and Sharon Cooke. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Sean Cooke at Cork District Court with his parents Declan and Sharon Cooke. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Olivia Kelleher

A teenager who took a case against a soccer club amid claims he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) after he was dropped from the team as a 13-year-old lost his case at Cork Circuit Court yesterday.

Sean Cooke (18), of Highfields, Ballea Road, Carrigaline, Co Cork, sued Carrigaline United claiming ill treatment by coaches at the club. Mr Cooke told Judge Sean O'Donnabhain that he was a good player who had aspirations to play in the UK. However, he wasn't given the opportunity to display his skills to British talent scouts after he was allegedly dropped.

His father Declan Cooke brought an unsuccessful vote of no confidence against the Carrigaline United coaches in the 2012-2013 season. A total of 11 parents of players voted on the issue and Mr Cooke lost by a vote of 9 to 2.

Coach Tim Mawe said everything possible was done to accommodate Sean at the club. Mr Mawe took over managing the club in 2011-2012.

The club had previously been managed by Sean Cooke's father Declan.

Mr Mawe said Sean was part of the very successful 2011-2012 season and that he played regularly. He stated he received a lot of calls from parents who informed him that Declan Cooke was giving out about the management.

He conceded he was very hurt when Declan Cooke brought a vote of no confidence against him. However, he rebuffed suggestions from the plaintiff's barrister that he took any bad feelings out on Sean. "We picked on merit," he said.

Mr Mawe said Sean sustained an injury in the summer of 2012 and missed a large portion of pre-season training. When the season began Sean had to come off the pitch on one occasion because he was injured.

Sean Cooke claimed that prior to a match with Ballincollig during the 2012 season Mr Mawe pulled him aside and said that he wasn't good enough to play. Mr Mawe denied this. Mr Mawe said Mr Cooke's mother arrived at the match and once she realised her son wasn't playing there was a "huge commotion".

Barrister for the plaintiff told the court that Sean Cooke didn't get the opportunity to play during a match which was attended by an Aston Villa talent scout.

Judge O'Donnabhain said it was an "emotional" and "difficult" case. He said Declan Cooke was undoubtedly a "caring parent" but that he was not "over-blessed with insight".

In dismissing the case he stated that coach Tim Mawe appeared to be "conscientious and truthful". A ruling on costs will be made at a later date.

Irish Independent

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