Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

PLAYER Ruling Upsets Teams Ruling Saddens Mother; Sporting Gesture Goes Sour after 12th Man Arrangement Reported to NCF

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

PLAYER Ruling Upsets Teams Ruling Saddens Mother; Sporting Gesture Goes Sour after 12th Man Arrangement Reported to NCF

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Howard tim.howard@dailyexaminer.com.au

NORTH Coast Football has cracked down on a Yamba junior soccer team playing a Down syndrome boy as its 12th man.

For two years the Yamba under-14s have played Marc Stillhard as a 12th player, despite the rules of the game stipulating a maximum of 11 players a side can be on the pitch at one time.

Marc's mother Enid Reichler-Stillhard said for two years teams in the competition had been willing to waive the rule, allowing Marc to play a full game as a 12th player, without disadvantaging his team.

But that situation has changed following a complaint to the organising body, North Coast Football, which has issued a statement stipulating all games must be played with 11-a-side teams.

NCF general manager Reuben Robertson said his organisation became aware of the situation in only the past few days, although it had issued a ruling allowing Marc, who is 16, to play down two age groups.

"The only comment I would like to make is the one we issued on our Facebook page," Mr Robertson said.

The key passage in the statement said: "Unfortunately we now have the situation where a club or a person associated with it has complained to North Coast Football. Rules being what they are, NCF have advised we are not able to continue with Marc on the field as an extra player as this is competitive grade football."

Mrs Reichler-Stillhard said: "Marc plays football/ soccer in under-14s, down an age group but still can't keep pace with them, so two years ago a coach suggested why not play him as a 12th man as an extra person on the field.

"Each week we ask the other team if this is okay and the answer was always yes, except once right at the beginning but they changed their mind once they understood the reason."

Officials from rival clubs said they had no problems with Yamba fielding Marc as a 12th player.

Westlawn Tigers president Liz Weatherstone said the Tigers under-14s were due to play Yamba on Saturday and would be happy if Marc was on the field as an extra player. …

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