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Kent County Football Association warning after suspicious man give gifts to children at Barming football practice


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A warning has been issued to a number of youth football teams after reports a man, claiming to be a scout, was giving out trophies to young players and taking pictures of them.

It is understood the suspicious incidents happened during Barming Youth Football Club's training sessions at Gatland Recreation Ground in Maidstone, leaving staff and parents worried.

The incidents were reported to Kent Police and the Kent FA. Picture: iStock.com
The incidents were reported to Kent Police and the Kent FA. Picture: iStock.com

In a letter to local clubs, the Kent County Football Association (Kent FA) said: "A club has reported that there has been a man hanging around at Gatland Park for a few weeks on a Wednesday evening when they train.

"On the last occasion, and possibly on others, he took pictures of the children.

"The coaches went over and told him to leave the park and to desist taking pictures. He left."

The letter explained the man had claimed to be a football scout and had handed out trophies to a couple of children outside the training sessions.

The incidents are said to have happened between September 29 and November 16.

Gatland Recreation Ground, in Maidstone. Picture: Google Maps (53195115)
Gatland Recreation Ground, in Maidstone. Picture: Google Maps (53195115)

The football club reported the man - who they described as a 5ft7in or 5ft8in black man in his early 20s, wearing an England kit and carrying a football - to the police, who are investigating, but say no criminal offences have yet been identified.

Barming Youth FC, which caters for children aged from four upwards, is said to have spoken with its players and reinforced that they must not talk or accept gifts from strangers.

Parents of the children who reportedly received the presents were also made aware of the incident.

The Kent FA has advised teams to circulate the letter and said it will also alert other leagues.

Designated safeguarding assistant for the Kent FA, Laura Hawkins, said: "The Kent FA is working with the police and a statement has been provided to the club welfare officers to be vigilant and how to safeguard should these instances occur."

The man has reportedly been watching training sessions. Stock image
The man has reportedly been watching training sessions. Stock image

Amanda Howard, welfare officer at Barming Youth FC said the matter had been passed on to the police and the club will make no further comment.

Insp Steve Kent, of Kent Police's Maidstone community safety unit, added that no criminal offences have been disclosed and officers are making enquiries.

Anyone with information should call Kent Police on 01622 604100, quoting reference number 16-1456.

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