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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 12:04 GMT
Boy's football hope is 'offside'
Luke Davies
Luke misses being picked for the Llanyrafon team
A schoolboy's dream of playing for the football team he loves are being dashed because his family live 100 yards across the county border.

Luke Davies, aged seven, lives in Llandegfedd, in Monmouthshire, but wants to play with his classmates in Llanyrafon AFC.

His parents have applied for a licence to the league in Torfaen.

But officials insist the long-standing rule, which bars children if they live outside the county, has to stand.

If we don't follow the rules we have, we might as well get our rule book, rip it up, and throw it away
Stephen Brooks, Torfaen league secretary

His parents send him to North Road Infant School, which is across the border in Torfaen, and all his friends play in the Torfaen league.

But, according to league rules, he can only play for the East Gwent league, which covers teams in the area where he lives.

The Torfaen Junior and Youth Association Football League, has insisted its rules - which go back almost 30 years - cannot be broken.

Luke's parents, Stephen and Sue, are furious that an exception cannot be made.

"I feel Luke is being disadvantaged," said Mrs Davies. "He is really upset, but we are still taking him to football training every Wednesday evening at Cwmbran Stadium."

The Manchester United fan had been playing for the team in friendly matches since he was five. But when he turned seven, he had to be licensed to play.

Luke told the BBC Wales website: "I have got some friends in other teams but my two best friends are in Llanyrafon.

"I have scored for Llanyrafon. It's nice to be in the team and with all my friends," he added.

Mrs Davies said the family could see the border from their home.

Boundary rules

It is marked by a stream which is close to their smallholding in Llandegfedd.

Stephen Brooks, secretary and founder of the league in Torfaen, said he understood how Luke and his parents felt, but the rules could not be changed.

He said Luke lives within the boundaries of the East Gwent junior league and made an application to play for a club within Torfaen.

"He just can't do that, because he lives outside the boundary," said Mr Brooks.

"There has to be a boundary line drawn somewhere. If we don't follow the rules we have, we might as well get our rule book, rip it up, and throw it away."

The Davies family remain disappointed and now want to take their complaint to the Football Association of Wales. . Mrs Davies added: "He loves the sport so much that he wants to play in France - and it would probably easier for him to play football in France than in Torfaen.

"At seven years old, it's not making a huge impact. He's just a lad who wants to play soccer with his friends."

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