CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

What is it with the FA and footie coach Ash?

'Shocked' soccer fanatic who has run hundreds of children’s games in Camden and Islington faces permanent suspension 'from all football'

18 January, 2018 — By John Gulliver

Ash Rahman: ‘I was shocked. I’ve met up with representatives from the FA to discuss the case and give my take on things, and answer allegations, but at no point did they indicate they were considering a life ban’

A WELL-KNOWN coach who has been running hundreds of children’s football games in Camden and Islington has been told by the Football Association that he may be banned for life from being involved in the sport he loves.

It is an extraordinary decision affecting the life of 36-year-old Ash Rahman – and it is spelled out, I understand, in a 100-page document sent to him by the FA follow­ing an investigation that goes back to the autumn of 2016.

Basically, he is accused of “aggressive” behaviour – and an FA management committee has called for a permanent suspension “from all football”.

He is due to appear before an FA disciplinary panel in the near future.

I understand that there has been a lot of correspondence between Ash and the FA over allegations made by a number of individuals.

At a recent hearing at the FA, Ash appeared to have been accompanied by a friend, a senior barrister, who, it seems, took part in a long question-and-answer session with FA officials.

Way back in the 1990s parents in Camden would help local associations such as the Scouts to ferry their children to Regent’s Park or Primrose Hill for a Saturday game. It was all done in a friendly hit-and-miss manner. Everybody would enjoy themselves, all very amateurish and British.

I used to take my own son to Primrose Hill every week to watch him do his bit in goal!

But since 2000 children’s football, certainly in central London, has become a booming business.

Principally, this has all come about through the enthusiasm and endeavour of Ash, along with a former Camden Council official, Will Cave, who organised as many as 2,000 children – aged from six to 18 – in 50 clubs or 300 teams.

Fees for parents vary, often according to their means but on average they can range from £300 to £1,000 a year – all organised by youth clubs or “academies” under the aegis of Ash Rahman and Will Cave.

Ash, a football fanatic, who developed a passion for the game at South Camden Community School (now Regent High) in Somers Town, has always been an active coach in his involvement in the game over 20 years. He and Will Cave usually worked in tandem, Will more a manager or “co-ordinator” figure.

I understand Ash, who grew up in King’s Cross, has a passion for the underdog or the “minority” whom he sees as the underprivileged Asian and neglected white working-class youngsters who are often ignored while children from better-off or middle-class families benefit from their relatively affluent background.

Highly thought of in the football world, Ash has been involved in the past few years in taking children’s teams to competitions in Denmark, Portugal and Spain.

He has links with professional clubs such as Reading and Queen’s Park Rangers.

Ash told me yesterday (Wednesday): “I was shocked. I’ve met up with representatives from the FA to discuss the case and give my take on things, and answer allegations, but at no point did they indicate they were considering a life ban.

“They’ve sent me their case files and evidence, which is over 100 pages. It’s extremely biased. It doesn’t seem like they’ve made much effort to take my side of events into account.

“I plan to keep fighting it.”

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