In Dourges, a small town in Pas-de-Calais, the return to school for the local football club rhymes with a sledgehammer. The obligation for licensees to present a health pass in order to be able to train and play, places the club in the inability to function normally. On August 29, during the first day of the Coupe de France, the senior team, which was to face USA Liévin, had to forfeit due to lack of players able to present the required document.
“We only have seventeen senior players with half vaccinated, half unvaccinated, explains Jimmy Slézak, president of the club. Some do not even want to be tested and their teammates, even vaccinated, sometimes show solidarity and refuse to play. “ Result: each match since the start of the school year, the club has struggled to field a complete team. “The weekend of September 5, for the Coupe d’Artois, we left at thirteen, with the reinforcement of three U18 [joueurs de moins de 18 ans]. If they hadn’t been there, we would have forfeited. “
The players without a valid pass are so numerous in the team that, as far as they are concerned, some training sessions are relocated in public parks. Those who are vaccinated or have a valid test can train in the club stadium. “But there are so few that we do joint training with the U18s”, admits Jimmy Slézak.
Youth categories to support
For the moment, Dourges can count on its youth categories to support its senior group, but on September 30, the obligation of the health pass should extend to 12-17 year olds. However, in this age group, the club has few vaccinated players. There is also a drop in the number of licensees.
A decline which is also more general. “Last year, we had 300 dismissed in total. This year I have 110 and, if I get to 150, it will be a little miracle. We have already planned to remove several teams, at least four. It’s complicated to convince people to be vaccinated, and I am no one to dictate their behavior to my members ”, laments Jimmy Slézak.
The president criticizes the French Football Federation (FFF) for having left too little time for small clubs to prepare for the application of the health pass. He founded a group called “Save our amateur football”, with the presidents of five other clubs (FCH Lens, Auchy-les-Mines, Barlin, Meurchin and Vendin). “The other presidents [du groupe] and I decided that we weren’t going to control the sanitary passes during the matches anymore. There is clearly a lack of volunteers to do this. And it’s still scandalous that people can no longer come and watch football in peace. “
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