SEVEN boys hopes and dreams were shattered when Nova Hreod Academy cancelled their regional final in an English Schools Football Association (ESFA) tournament.
The five-a-side team in Year 7 were the only school to get through to the finals in Torbay to represent Swindon in the match on Tuesday, but were pulled out because Nova Hreod was not able to provide transport.
But the school did not alert the parents to the situation so alternative transport arrangements could be made despite having ample notice, and instead decided to cancel the trip entirely.
Teresa Pugh, mum to 11-year-old Tom Pugh, was furious when her son came home from school on Monday with a letter saying that the trip had been cancelled.
The 38-year-old mum-of-four said: “The boys are so disappointed. There have been a lot of tears.
“They have worked so hard to get into the finals and they have only just started playing together as well.
“My son walked through the door with a letter saying that the relative of the co-driver who was gong to take them to the match had been rushed to hospital and could no longer take them, so the teacher had taken the decision to cancel the match.
“They didn’t even give us the opportunity to make our own arrangements.
“They called the boys in and told them at 11am on Monday but the first thing I knew about it was Monday afternoon.
“But when I called the teacher he said that he had known since Friday that the co-driver wouldn’t be able to take them.
“If they had told us then we would have pulled all the stops out to try and get them there. I have four seats in my car and so does my husband and we’d have been more than happy to take them down there.
“I called the teacher back saying that we could take them and he said ‘have you seen the weather forcast? I wouldn’t be wanting to drive in that.’ “And I think there you see the real reason why they cancelled.”
Teresa’s husband Steve, who owns the international haulage company, Steve Pugh Logistic Ltd, arranged and was willing to pay for a minibus to take the boys to Torbay on Tuesday morning, but by that time it was too late to go.
The 45-year-old said: “I arranged for the minibus to be there at the school to pick them up but the teacher then said that they would get there half an hour late and the ESFA wouldn’t wait for them.”
The school has told Teresa and Steve that they will be holding a meeting to get to the bottom of what happened.
Julie Tridgell, principal at the school, said: “I can confirm that the school did pull out of a long distance fixture for operational reasons, however I am dismayed and saddened by this. I will be meeting with the young people involved to apologise on behalf of the school. I am very proud of their success which means a huge amount to me personally and the school. The school will be undertaking a review of our policies and procedures in order to learn from this event and to ensure an occurrence like this doesn’t happen again.”The boys have now been told that in recompense for missing the match, they will receive a gold medal, certificate, and a handshake from the headteacher.