You’re 12 years old and don’t have a care in the world as you enjoy the school holidays. Other than the occasional game of tennis at the end of June, and four days in July pretending to be Tiger Woods (ok, bad example), your thoughts are largely dominated by football. With the local school having a state of the art all-weather pitch, it’s already decided where you’ll be spending most of your time.
However it’s not that simple. When a group of you arrive at the pitch, you can’t get in – the school is closed and so are the facilities. There’s nobody around so you head off and try to find somewhere else to play, which isn’t easy with busy roads and limited green areas due to new housing developments.
Some of the older kids are able to scale the fence, but local residents then call the Police to report teenagers being on school grounds.
As bizarre as this scenario seems, it happens. Many schools in the West of Scotland are fortunate to have had large sums of money spent in creating excellent sports fields which, during the day are enjoyed by pupils and in the evening are rented out to the local community. Unfortunately, in some cases, this arrangement doesn’t extend to the time of year when young people have the largest amount of free time and the weather is best.
Surely it would make more sense for local authorities to allow such facilities to remain open during the summer months. Anything that helps young people to do something constructive, and avoid hanging around street corners or drinking cheap bottles of cider, has to be a good thing. It’s already difficult enough to encourage youngsters to play the game and take it seriously, without them being denied access to a pitch without good reason.
When you consider that these same sports fields could also be closed during the Christmas and Easter holidays, then they are out of bounds for close to a quarter of the calendar year.
Hopefully common sense will prevail, and local council’s will make these outstanding facilities as accessible as possible. Can you imagine a similar scenario in France, Germany or Holland?