Council Looking for Answers on Youth Football

City Councilors discussed the recent troubles surrounding the Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer team at its Monday night meeting.

During the public speaking portion of the Sept. 11 council meeting, several parents informed the council that the Chelsea Pride team had been removed from the Northeast Commonwealth Youth Football and Cheer league prior to the first game due to allegations that the team had falsified medical records of some team members.

Inquiries to the Northeast Commonwealth Youth Football league were not answered.

Since that Sept. 11 meeting, members of the Chelsea Pride leadership met with some parents and refunded some of the league fees they had already paid, according to Councilor-at-Large Damali Vidot.

According to Council President Leo Robinson and several other councilors present at the meeting, it was announced that Chelsea Pride members could participate in the New England Flag Football League once a week. Robinson noted that the Northeast Commonwealth Youth Football League would also allow Chelsea athletes to play on teams in surrounding communities.

Robinson also noted that there will be a reorganization of the Chelsea Pride leadership and board to address issues heading into next season.

Still, the issues surrounding Chelsea Pride and the city’s sometimes bumpy history with youth sports concerned several councilors who wanted to look at ways the city can help prevent future issues and ensure credible and well-run sports organizations for the city’s youth.

“I think we keep brushing over the fact that they falsified medical records, because I think to me, that is the biggest thing,” said Vidot.

Vidot said it is incumbent upon the city to hold the sports organizations accountable for their actions, whether through having a bigger hand in the leagues or demanding more paperwork from teams that operate in the city.

“I’m tired of people taking advantage of our young people,” said Vidot, adding that she was looking for the council to hold a meeting with the leadership of Chelsea Pride to discuss the issues.

District 8 Councilor Calvin Brown also said the city needs to take some steps to make sure organizations such as youth sports are in good standing with their leagues and with the city.

District 4 Councilor Todd Taylor noted that Chelsea Pride is an independent organization and not under the supervision of the city.

“We can’t go in and tell a nonprofit how to run their business or what they do or hold them accountable in a certain way,” said Taylor, although he added the city does have some oversight if the team uses city funds. “The whole situation is unfortunate, and my main concern out of all of this is basically that kids in Chelsea have an option to play football here. Whatever happened with Pride, so be it, they did what they did and now they are in the situation they are in; that has nothing to do with us.”

Taylor said the city’s responsibility now is to make sure there is an option going forward for the kids.

“We need some sort of option, so if the city needs to get involved or use our leadership to try to facilitate something going forward, I’m all in for that and I’ll try to make that happen,” said Taylor.

District 3 Councilor Norieliz DeJesus noted that the kids in the city need outlets like youth sports, and that many parents are not able to get as involved as they want to because they have to work multiple jobs.

“I worry the most right now about the kids in the league and how can we as a council really move things quickly to secure that whatever these coaches are doing, that the kids still have something productive to do this season,” DeJesus said.

District 7 Councilor Tanairi Garcia said she was at the Chelsea Pride meeting last week. She said while the meeting was uncomfortable, she was happy that the kids at least have the opportunity to take part in the flag football league.

District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero noted that while Chelsea Pride is currently out of commission, there is Pop Warner football once again active in the community.

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