Saturday, June 12, 2021

‘It’s a curse for a coach to make love to his players’


tiamin rice

1 of 10

Coach Frank Darlington…in police custody in Lagos for child abuse

Barry Bennell served three jail sentences for child abuse
Barry Bennell served three jail sentences for child abuse

One day after our training programme, coach invited me to his house. I met two other boys in his house, but he asked them to leave when I arrived. When they left, he asked me to take off my cloth. He even threatened to kill me if I refused.

The child abuse scandal involving a 49-year-old man, Frank Darlington, owner of a football academy in Agege area of Lagos, who allegedly raped three teenage players, continues to elicit mixed reactions from Nigerians, especially coaches.

Operatives of the Lagos State Police Command arrested the randy Darlington recently after one of his victims reported to his mother that his anal area was all bruised and sore from the activities of the coach.

According to the story, when the mother probed the young footballer, he narrated how the academy owner and his football coach ‘sodomised’

The alarmed mother immediately reported the matter at the Agege Police Station, where the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) ordered an investigation into the matter, which led to Darlington’s arrest.

Darlington was said to have admitted that he started sleeping with the boys from July last year, claiming, however, to have stopped when he discovered that his action was affecting the performance of his boys.

Former Super Eagles assistant coach, Joseph Erico, was shocked on hearing the story. He described Darlington’s act as not only abnormal, but also wicked and strange in football circle.

“This story is strange to me,” a shocked Erico said in a chat with The Guardian. “This is absolutely rubbish. This is not a story. The man should go to jail for this nonsense. I don’t have anything more to say about this. I have just been discharged from the hospital after spending some weeks on a sick bed. I don’t want to use the little energy that I have on this issue. It is total rubbish,” Erico said angrily.

A coach of a football academy in Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, described Darlington as ‘insane.’ “This is strange. It is the first time I am hearing this horrible story. A football coach sleeping with his teenage male players is a curse. I have never heard of such thing happening since I started coaching.

“In my opinion, such a person should be made to face the law if found guilty,” he said.

Another coach, who also pleaded anonymity, wondered why Darlington preferred to ‘attack’ his teenage male players from behind, when there are beautiful women around, who are there to serve that purpose.

“Why would any man think of having sex with a man when the ladies created by God to satisfy that desire are all over the place. I cannot believe that this kind of thing now exists in our country. I have never imagined that a football coach could bring himself to this level of ‘stupid’ sex satisfaction with his players.

“He is rubbishing the works of other coaches,” he said.

While confessing his many sins to the police in Lagos, coach Frank Darlington said: “I am the owner of Soccer World of Football in Agege. I have been coaching many boys in the area. Before recruiting them into the academy, the boys are expected to register with the sum of N3000.

“This allows them the use of the academy jerseys. I don’t know what came over me. I usually have my bath with the boys after every training exercise. So one day, I started fiddling with some of the boys’ private part.

“I later invited one of them to my house where I had sex with him. I discovered that one of them had stopped coming for training. One day, I went to their house to find out why he has been staying away. His mother told me that he was sick when I went to their house. Two days later, I saw him playing with other boys in another team. Trouble started when I tried to woo him back to my academy. I did not know that the boy had reported the matter to the police.”

Speaking further, Darlington said: “I always get fascinated by the boys whenever I remember my wife, because it is not easy staying alone without a woman.

“I always make love to these boys through the front and their anus because whenever I feel sexual urge, I would lure them to assist me with some house chores. It is not every time I sleep with some of the boys; sometimes I do romance them just to relieve myself of my feelings for my wife.

“I don’t force the boys to make love with them, after I have pondered on my lifestyle I decided to put a stop to what I am doing.

“I have been making love to some of these boys over a year now but during this period I have lost count of numbers of the boys,” “ he said.

One of the victims told NAN that the coach had slept with him five times.

“The very first time he made love to me was when I went to assist him to fetch water. I was about to leave his house when he ordered me to lie on his bed that we are about to do some exercise. To my surprise, he asked me to undress; before I knew what was happening, he had climbed on me and then turned me around and made straight for my anus with his manhood.

“After that incident, he threatened to kill me if I reported to anybody about what transpired between us. I joined the Super Warrior Football Club, Agege, Lagos, in February 2015 in order to be a great footballer, but after noticing the person of the coach, I stopped going for training,” he said.

Another of his victims narrated how the coach lured him to his house from where he had canal knowledge of him.

He said: “One day after our training programme, coach invited me to his house. I met two other boys in his house, but he asked them to leave when I arrived. When they left, he asked me to take off my cloth. He even threatened to kill me if I refuse.

“When I was to leave, he told me not to tell anybody and that if I do I will die. I later told my mum when I could no longer bear the pains in my anus,” he said.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, who paraded Frank Darlington said he would soon be charged to court.

The story of coach Frank Darlington is just one of child abuse scandals ravaging football clubs across the globe. The ugly trend is threatening to engulf professional football clubs in England, with former players alleging the existence of paedophile rings that operated unchecked.

Several former professional players have come forward to reveal they were abused as children while playing for their clubs.

Andy Woodward was the first to go public, saying former coach at England’s Crewe Alexandra football club, Barry Bennell, had abused him.

Three other players have also come forward, including 44-year-old Chris Unsworth, who said he was raped between 50 and 100 times.

“I would never have come forward if I hadn’t seen Andy on television,” Unsworth said. “I know what he has been through because I have been through exactly the same … All the lads have been through the same.”

Police in England said a hotline set up to deal with the widening scandal received 50 calls within the first two hours, with allegations being made against more than one person.

Manchester City young team player, Jason Dunford, said the scandal was bigger than the one involving former BBC presenter Jimmy Saville.

“I think Saville looks like a choir boy compared to this fella,” Dunford said. “I believe there was a conspiracy, there was a paedophile ring, and there was people at those football clubs who had a duty to look after the welfare of young boys coming through their system.

“This is their potential future stars, and their future stars are being sexually assaulted and sexually abused by a member of their staff.”

Former coach Bennell has served three jail sentences for child abuse.

Unsworth said he thought members of the club had turned a blind eye to the abuse. “I think members of the club, they knew what was going on. [They] just swept it under the carpet end,” he said.

England captain, Wayne Rooney, has urged players who have been sexually abused to call the helpline so they do not suffer in silence, while British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has also praised the men for their courage in coming forward.

A sexual abuse scandal involving young English victims was revealed in mid-November

2016, when former professional footballers waived their rights to anonymity and talked publicly about child sexual abuse by former football coaches in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Echoing similar revelations in the 1990s, the initial 2016 allegations centred on abuse of young players at Crewe Alexandra and Manchester City due to the clubs’ associations with Barry Bennell (convicted of sexual abuse offences in the US in 1994 and in the UK in 1998 and 2015).

Subsequent allegations included a former Newcastle United youth coach George Ormond (imprisoned in 2002 for offences against young footballers in the area), and a former scout, Eddie Heath, at Chelsea, plus allegations that both clubs tried to cover-up the abuse. Allegations of abuse by coach Bob Higgins at Southampton were also made.

On December 5, allegations about former youth coaches in Scotland also emerged. By December 6, 2016, in response to allegations from 350 individuals, the English FA, several football clubs and 21 UK police forces had established various enquiries and investigations. People claiming they were abused had cited over 55 professional and non-league clubs.

At the inquest in 2012 into the death of Gary Speed, it was alleged that Speed and former Manchester United player Alan Davies had been “favourites” of Bennell, though there was no suggestion they had been abused by Bennell. Both players later took their own lives.

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