Young footballers are tackling fouling of a different kind on their home pitches.
Burradon Juniors Football Club has to do a sweep of its field before its games on Sundays to check for irresponsible dog owners who have not cleaned up after their pets.
Now the club is backing North Tyneside Council’s ‘No Messing!’ campaign which targets the irresponsible dog owners.
The club has created its own leaflets, which the players will distribute in the area.
Secretary Paul Bunyan said: “Junior football is a massive part of community life in Burradon and our youngsters are proud to represent the village.
“As an organisation we place the welfare of our young people at the top of our priorities. Sadly, their safety is continually put at risk by dog fouling on our fields.
“Our coaches now have to spend time before every game scanning the pitches and picking up dog mess, despite the placement of dog bins around the area.
“Recently, we had a young child attend training and end up covered in dog mess – thankfully he came to no harm but we live in fear of the day when a child does suffer harm to their health.”
“We really wish to appeal to dog walkers not to allow dogs to foul on our playing fields.”
The captain for the club’s under-13s team, 12-year-old Kai added: “People who don’t pick up after their dogs are selfish. It’s horrible when we come to play and it’s all over the pitch.
“If I could speak to dog walkers who leave it, I’d ask them to please take it away, it’s spoiling our game.”
Coun John Harrison, cabinet member for the environment, said: “It is completely unacceptable that the club must clean up after other peoples’ dogs so the children to play football safely.
“Not just unpleasant, dog fouling can cause serious health problems, particularly to young people. Unfortunately, the council cannot be at every dog-walking location and dog owners must take responsibility for their pets.
“Street cleansing, including the removal of dog mess and litter, costs the council approximately £3.5m a year. With budgets tightening, this money could be much better spent on other essential services.
“We launched the campaign to crackdown on the issue and we’ve seen some promising results so far – and I’m extremely pleased we have the club’s full support.”
As part of the ‘No Messing!’ campaign, patrols have been increased across the borough and £50 fines issued to anyone seen failing to pick up after their pets.
Environmental wardens are also on hand at different locations to offer advice on responsible dog ownership, as well giving out free dog mess bags.