Weather threat to local football

Hampshire Chronicle: A flooded pitch in Southampton A flooded pitch in Southampton

Hampshire’s football leagues are facing irreparable damage because of the atrocious weather this winter. The biggest adult youth league in the south of the county, the Drew Smith Southampton League, is in real danger of being abandoned if the rain does not stop soon.

Even if it is completed, officials fear some clubs will withdraw as a result of not playing for the best part of two months.

And there are also fears that many youngsters will give up playing the game and find other things to do of a weekend as the youth leagues in the county continue to be hammered by constant postponements.

Southampton Saturday League secretary Rod Sutherland, pictured left, said: “I fully expect teams to leave because they won’t want the hassle of all these postponements. “It is a lot of hard work trying to get a match on - it’s just a fruitless task at the moment. “The last time full fixtures were played was December 7. There will be a point when a league committee will gather and may have to decide the fate of the season.”

Sutherland added: “It’s getting to that point where it’s the worst season on record. “Give it another month and the Drew Smith will be in real danger of getting cancelled altogether.

“If the weather turns for the better in March, then I would say we’ll get through the fixtures. “There are five Saturdays in March; if we can play all of them then we’ll be on track to complete the season.

“But, if nothing improves, it could be the end of this campaign.”

Tony Roles has been left frustrated on Saturdays and Sundays for most of the past two months.

His Shield FC side, from Junior 5 of the Southampton League, have played just four league matches all season.

“It’s just relentless. We can’t get a game on because of the cup matches are taking priority on the 3G pitches,” he said.

Roles is also assistant boss at Southampton Tyro League side Baddesly Park Under-12s, who his son, Joe, plays for. He fears the worst for the youngsters that are stuck inside on a Saturday and Sunday rather than playing football. “This weather could potentially have a major effect on our future players. If there is no grass roots football getting played, there is a risk talented youngster may miss out on valuable playing time,” he said. “It could be disastrous for those children. “My son and his team eat, sleep and breathe football and you know they’re all bored without it.

“It affects them because they get frustrated and become interested in other things. “We could see a lot of kids going off the sport altogether.” More on the wet weather playing havoc with local football: See this weekend’s Sports Pink for a special report.

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