When the abuse started, Bennell used threats and blackmail to make sure his victims did not go against him. “What he’d do sometimes, to show the fear factor and make sure I never told anyone, was get out some nunchucks,” Woodward says. “He was a master with them. He’d tell me to hold out a piece of paper. I’d be physically shaking. Then he’d hit it with enough force to split it in half and make a little comment: ‘You see what I can do, you see how powerful I am?’
“It was either threats of violence or he’d use football to manipulate control. If I upset him in any way, he’d drop me from the team. ‘At any point,’ he’d tell me, ‘you will go, you will disappear and that dream won’t happen.’ It was emotional blackmail, all the time.”
Andy Woodward’s story of being abused by a youth coach is something we’ve seen in the US and Canada as well, and I’m sure it’s hardly the only story out of the UK like it.
It is so important to keep an open line of communication with kids who are playing youth sports, and make sure they have somewhere to go with the truth, and that the authorities act accordingly when claims are made. Youth coaches have so much power over the future of the kids who play for them, and that power needs to have a check in place, or we’re simply inviting pedophiles to go into coaching!