Teen who sued soccer club for 'trauma' after he was dropped from team loses case
A teenager who took a case against a soccer club amid claims he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after he was dropped from the team as a 13-year-old lost his case at Cork Circuit Court today.
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 from the team.
His father Declan Cooke brought an unsuccessful vote of no confidence against the Carrigaline United coaches in the 2012-2013 season. 11 parents of players voted on the issue and Mr Cooke lost by a vote of 9 to 2.
Coach Tim Mawe said he felt a duty of care to all of the young men in his charge and that 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 and that there was "non-stop complaining" from Sean's father.
He conceded he was very hurt when Declan Cooke brought a vote of no confidence against him. However, he refuted suggestions from the plaintiff's barrister that he took any bad feelings out on Sean.
"We were volunteers. We were doing a great job. It was hurtful. There was no appreciation. He (Sean) was the same as any player. We picked on merit."
Mr Mawe said Sean sustained an injury in the summer of 2012 and missed a large portion of pre-season training. When the season commenced 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 said if he could he would play every player at every match.
"I didn't say 'you are not good enough.' You are dealing with kids. You are trying to be positive. You would love to play them all."
Mr Mawe said Mr Cook's mother arrived at the match and once she realised her son wasn't playing there was a "huge commotion." The court heard Declan Cooke subsequently texted him telling him never to contact him or his family again.
Mr Mawe said if he "had a superstar who was fully fit he would be in the team every week." He told Judge Sean O'Donnabhain that Sean was recovering from injury and that they were easing him back to the team. He said he couldn't understand the decision by the Cooke's to have Sean leave the club.
Barrister for the plaintiff, Matthew Maguire, told the court that hat Sean Cooke didn't get the opportunity to play during a match against Ballincollig which was attended by an Aston Villa talent scout. Mr Mawe said he was wasn't aware of his attendance. He said "Pope Francis could have been at the match" for all he had known.
Meanwhile, representatives of the club insisted that Sean Cooke was given the opportunity to play for the year ahead of him once the situation with his existing team had soured. However, Mr Cooke's father reportedly turned this offer down.
The club also denied that they had failed to give Sean the opportunity to go to another club instead saying that they had wished him well. Club representatives also refuted suggestions by the plaintiff's barrister, Mr Maguire, that Sean had been taunted by club officials when he subsequently played matches for another club.
Judge Sean 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." He stressed that there was a need to establish a breach in duty of care in the case and that was not established.
In dismissing the case he state that coach Tim Mawe appeared to be "conscientious and truthful."
A ruling on costs will be made at a later date.