Conflict between the Londonderry Youth Soccer Association (LYSA) and the Londonderry United Soccer Club (LUSC) flared again – this time at the Recreation Commission’s April 13 meeting, at which LYSA representatives say they weren’t treated fairly by Recreation members.
Having requested the recreation league be permitted to participate in intra-town travel, LYSA board member Kerri Stanley said she invited three men from the New Hampshire Soccer Association (NHSA) to speak on LYSA’s behalf, two of whom drove a good distance to attend the meeting.
“I was absolutely appalled and embarrassed at the way they were treated at that meeting,” Stanley wrote in a letter to the Town Administrator, Kevin Smith. “They were intentionally not given the opportunity to even speak on our behalf, and as is typical when anything related to soccer is addressed, it is clear that LYSA personnel are treated poorly.”
Recreation chairman Art Psaledas said LYSA’s guests weren’t introduced at the meeting, but members of the Commission did receive an email saying they would be attending.
“None of them asked to talk. One guy put his hand up, and at that point we had to go to the other side. I didn’t know he was a town resident, and I called him the next day and said he should have been allowed to speak,” Psaledas said following the meeting. “People from out of town are not typically allowed to speak.”
Members of LYSA disagree, saying attempts were made to speak not only by NHSA representatives who traveled from Portsmouth to speak to the Commission on their own time and State Rep. Doug Thomas, R-Londonderry, but also by three LYSA representatives who live in Londonderry, Patti Maccabe, Stanley and Alli Flaherty.
The group additionally said it’s not common practice to restrict input at meetings of boards and committees to Londonderry residents only.
Psaledas said LYSA was granted a waiver at the meeting that will allow its youth players under the age of 12 to travel to other towns for games in the spring, with the stipulation that LYSA and LUSC meet and bring back in July a long-term solution to disagreement over under-12 (U-12) travel.
Town Councilor Joe Green, LYSA vice president of administration and Council liaison to the Commission, said the group is asking for the same opportunity the LUSC asked the Commission for last year.
“Over the years, because other sports have been taking numbers away from soccer, we have had to adapt and travel to other places,” Green said, noting the NHSA representatives attended the meeting to address the questions and concerns related to their request.
LUSC proposed a memorandum of agreement for recreational U-12 travel, which included several stipulations, including that teams are only to be comprised of “true U-12 players,” children born between Aug. 1 2002 and July 31, 2004; LYSA may travel only if they are able to form three teams or less; if they are able to form four teams or more, they must stay in town; and LUSC and LYSA have equal sharing of information to all participants in regard to tryouts and soccer training opportunities through email blasts and by posting on each organization’s web site.
Green said he would understand LUSC’s concerns about the two soccer organizations competing for players if LYSA were creating a competitive arm of its travel teams, and he noted LUSC holds its tryouts six months before LYSA opens registration.
“Our Executive Board met, discussed the agreement and unanimously came to the conclusion of it being one-sided. We felt like it was a condition that we sign on the dotted line,” LYSA President Patti Maccabe wrote in a letter to Smith. Maccabe is an employee of Nutfield Publishing, which publishes the Londonderry Times.
“I don’t understand why LYSA even needs the permission of LUSC. Perhaps I can’t comprehend it because the fact is that we don’t need their permission,” Stanley wrote in her letter to Smith.
“LYSA has been for years playing with other towns nearby, in our U-12, U-15 and U-18 leagues, never thinking this would be something that was not managed by our own organization under NHSA, which both LYSA and LUSC reside under as members. Once LUSC and LYSA started dealing with the issue of LUSC bringing in non-competitive soccer ages to their organization, LYSA was then forbidden by the Recreation Commission to continue with our U-12 inter-town recreation soccer program,” Maccabe wrote. “We have been trying to get this back in service for our Londonderry players to continue with recreation soccer. This is in no way affiliated, comparable or conflicting with the LUSC competitive program. It is simply geography of where the games are played.”
Psaledas said LYSA’s request was brought forward late, considering the spring season has arrived; but the temporary waiver will provide both soccer organizations time to work out a long-term solution, which they were asked to do last year when conflicts were addressed by the Town Council, as previously reported by the Londonderry Times.
“They’re only about an hour away from an agreement,” Psaledas said, noting the mistrust between the groups is reasonable, but they are working to bring them back together.
Smith, who was not present at the meeting, said he is gathering the facts related to the events that transpired that evening.
“I have spoken to both Art and members of (LYSA). While I don’t believe it will be necessary for this matter to be brought before the Council, it may require a meeting to speak with the Recreation Commission members at some point,” Smith wrote in an email. “Again, that determination will be made once I have all of the facts.”