Football coaches demand action to protect players from ‘dangerous’ yobs

Edina Hibs coach Brian Gunn at the Jack Kane Centre pitches
Edina Hibs coach Brian Gunn at the Jack Kane Centre pitches
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FOOTBALL coaches have called for immediate protection from “dangerous” yobs on motorbikes who are tearing through a park in Niddrie at speeds of up to 70mph.

Local side Edina Hibs said training pitches at the Jack Kane centre had been targetted by off-road bikers since they moved to the sports venue in April.

The club has warned that the out-of-control bikers are putting the lives of children who train there at risk.

They say motorbike yobs are regularly seen during training sessions and matches and have called for increased safety measures to protect the young footballers.

“Do we have to wait until a child dies before action is taken?” said club treasurer and coach Brian Gunn. “Serious concerns were raised as soon as we started training at the Jack Kane Centre.

“The bikers can reach speeds of up to 70mph. They do wheelies and doughnut manoeuvres and ride up close to the kids. They have no perception of risk, they think it is funny.

“We tried to speak to them but they just won’t listen.”

Following a risk analysis Mr Gunn, who is a chartered health and safety adviser, said the fencing around the pitches would help eliminate the majority of the risk.

“My five-year-old son has had two near misses with the bikers and it is completely unacceptable. We need to address this problem and I have asked for fencing to be installed but it seems to be bogged down in bureaucracy.

“Surely fencing is a small price to pay. It’s going to take a child to be seriously hurt or a fatality before something is done. We feel we’re not getting anywhere.”

The council plans to install new 3G pitches in the future and said they will consider securing these new pitches with fencing.

Cllr Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said: “The damage to the pitches is of course disappointing and dangerous, and we understand the events over the weekend will be of great concern to the local club and the community.

“This type of antisocial behaviour is a real problem in some parts of Edinburgh, and, as we have seen recently, it can have dangerous consequences.

“Tackling this issue is a priority for the council and through our antisocial 
behaviour strategy, each locality has a Community Improvement Partnership in place where issues relating to anti-social behaviour and community safety are discussed. We will continue to work closely with Police Scotland on all anti-social behaviour issues in Craigmillar and across the city.”

Edinburgh Leisure staff who work at the Jack Kane Centre have also been exposed to violence from the bike gangs.

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: “What is hugely frustrating is that actions of a small minority of the community has such a negative impact on everyone else, making playing fields unplayable and causing potential danger to other people’s lives.”