CHICAGO, IL, October 10, 2016 – Chicago lawyer Nir Basse is representing 7-year-old Ciara Gunning after she was falsely deemed ineligible by the Illinois Women's Soccer League (IWSL) to play for her youth soccer team for the entire soccer league season, August 1 through July 21, 2017.
IWSL claims that Gunning was registered with an alternate travel team, Park Ridge Travel (PRT), which would make her to be ineligible to play for the Park Ridge Park District League (PRPDL) Hawks. However, Section 7 of IWSL rules and regulations states that proof of age is required for players, and must be submitted in order to complete registration.
“My client's mother, Nora Tellez, never submitted the birth certificate,” Basse said. “Proof of age was never provided, which means Ciara was never technically registered to the other league.”
IWSL rules also stipulate that a roster is not fixed until August 1 of the calendar year. Tellez requested Ciara's release from PRT on June 13, 2016, via email, to PRT Director Math Pothast. Pothast confirmed receipt, and indicated that there was no objection to releasing Ciara.
Prior to joining PRT, Gunning played with the same PRPDL team for years until her coach, Kevin Robinson, announced his decision to retire. The team began to transition, with Gunning joining PRT, but PRPDL parents were able to convince Robinson to coach again. With Robinson reinstated as the Hawks' head coach, Gunning wanted to rejoin her team. IWSL then claimed that she had been recruited.
“There were no recruitment efforts made to get my client to play on the team,” Basse said. “Gunning is simply a 7-year-old girl wanting to be with her friends.”
This matter drew attention when a friend and teammate of Gunning's passed away unexpectedly. Teammates wore their Hawks jerseys to their friend's funeral as a sign of unity; however, Gunning was unable to join her friends in remembrance because she was not one of the team.
“No one gets hurt if Gunning joins the team; not IWSL or PRT,” Basse said. “Gunning and her teammates are the only ones affected, both from a developmental and emotional perspective. We are simply asking that they do the right thing.”
**Update January 4, 2017
The IWSL finally coalesced and have allowed Cierra Telez to transfer teams as of January 1, 2017. She was originally going to have to wait till July 2017. Cierra and her family are ecstatic.