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Man of God with a gun Missionary or mercenary? The controversial Sam Childers, otherwise known as the Machine Gun Preacher and pictured with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, is set to visit events in Hallam, Cranbourne and Cranbourne East in August. Full story on page 5.
Soccer boils over Parents of Casey Comets players are threatening to quit the club after a junior soccer coach was stood down and suspended in the aftermath of an ugly incident at an under-10s match. Mike Somerville, the ex-coach of the Comets Hyenas side, was suspended for four weeks for misconduct by a Football Federation Victoria closed tribunal on 2 August. He was accused of inciting his players to misconduct by taking them to a kickboxing gym session at Sting gym days before the spiteful, abandoned match on 18 June. It is understood that both the Comets and the opposing side Peninsula
Strikers had sought a life ban for Mr Somerville. The Comets had already dismissed Somerville as coach days after the incident. In a video of the kickboxing session, the instructor taught players how to employ “dirty tactics” out of the referee’s gaze. “Apparently, you’re playing a dirty side this week,” he said as he swung an elbow at a punching bag held to his side by Somerville. “The ref has to be away from your vision,” he told the players. At the subsequent game, a Comets player felled a Peninsula Strikers opponent with a tackle, and then spun and kicked the player in the back.
“What are you doing? Stop it,” he allegedly told the Comets player. “I really think that if I hadn’t got in-between (the two boys) that the boy would’ve kicked (the Strikers player) again in the back or back of his head.” Mr Somerville, who had pleaded not guilty, is believed to have argued at the tribunal that he clarified the instructor’s advice later at the kickboxing session. He allegedly told his players that they ought to stick to playing football on the field. The tribunal is believed to have found Mr Somerville ought to have stepped in and objected to the instructor’s advice to the children earlier.
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Mr Somerville had denied to Star News in July that the “bonding” session for parents and children was “training my boys to be violent”. “To blame the kickboxing is just ridiculous. I’ve never had issues with the other boys. “The kickboxing lesson had zero to do with how the player behaved. He knows what he did was extremely wrong, but he doesn’t know why he did it.” Bashar Abuusba, the father of one of Mr Somerville’s players, said up to eight of the side’s 12 families would leave the Comets at the end of the season as a result of losing “trust” in the club. - Continued on page 3
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Strikers coach Troy Hicks allegedly ran in from the sidelines and loudly remonstrated with the eight-year-old Comets player at close quarters. The father of the Comets player then entered the fray, pushing Mr Hicks away from his son. Up to a dozen adult spectators entered the pitch, and the game was abandoned at the 15-minute mark. In his submission on the incident, Mr Somerville described Mr Hicks’ approach to the player as “unprofessional”, “disgraceful” and “hurl(ing) abuse and anger”. Mr Hicks submitted to the tribunal that he ran out on the pitch to protect his fallen player from further attack.
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