Youths ad­mit to dam­ag­ing field

Soc­cer club wants cul­prits to be part of so­lu­tion

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - SPORTS - JA­COB ROBIN­SON SIM­COE RE­FORMER jrobin­son@post­media.com

Those re­spon­si­ble for sig­nif­i­cant dam­age caused to Delhi’s E & E McLaughlin Sports Park have been iden­ti­fied.

In late Novem­ber a car and truck had been spot­ted at the park do­ing cir­cles and rip­ping up the grass soc­cer fields.

Of­fi­cials with the Delhi-based Nor­folk Soc­cer Club went public with their con­cerns about the in­ci­dent and the amount of dam­age done to the fields.

A few days later, two of the youths in­volved came for­ward and the rest were also named. The youths will not be charged, but in­stead will con­trib­ute to resti­tu­tion and land­scap­ing ef­forts at the fields.

“I think we re­al­ized that ev­ery­body makes mis­takes in their lives and we’re a group of peo­ple do­ing the best we can for our com­mu­nity,” said Mandie Mar­ques, trea­surer with the Nor­folk Soc­cer Club, which has 10 board mem­bers. “At the end of the day, we don’t want them to be stuck with a crim­i­nal record for a mis­take they’ve made.”

The van­dals are ex­pected to meet with board mem­bers this week to dis­cuss how the two sides will pro­ceed.

“Our hope is that by them fac­ing us and help­ing re­pair the field they’ll learn a les­son and are grate­ful for us not crim­i­nally charg­ing them be­cause that’s a huge thing,” said Mar­ques.

“If we just charged them and walked away, what does that teach them?”

In the days fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, Nor­folk OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk pre­dicted those in­volved would ei­ther come for­ward or be iden­ti­fied by a com­mu­nity mem­ber. Sanchuk called the res­o­lu­tion to the sit­u­a­tion a ‘win-win’.

“It shows when you have a crime com­mit­ted in our com­mu­nity and you bring the me­dia and our com­mu­nity part­ners to­gether, there’s noth­ing that we can’t solve,” he said.

“It’s a good note for any­one wish­ing to com­mit any crim­i­nal acts in Nor­folk County, once it gets out to the me­dia it’s just a mat­ter of time be­fore you get iden­ti­fied, peo­ple iden­tify them or they come to the po­lice and turn them­selves in.”

The es­ti­mated cost of re­pairs to the fields is not yet known, mostly be­cause the club won’t be able to check on the con­di­tion of their sprin­kler heads un­til the spring.

A fundraiser to erect a fence or bar­rier around the field is some­thing the board is look­ing at, but Mar­ques said they’ll need to chat with E & E McLaughlin and Nor­folk County staff be­fore that hap­pens.

“If it’s some­thing we could work on then we would def­i­nitely look at do­ing a fundraiser to get some­thing set up so the fields can be pro­tected,” she added.

If any­one is in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing to the club for a pos­si­ble fenc­ing project – or help­ing with field re­pairs – they can con­tact nor­folk­soc­cer­clu­binc@hot­mail.ca. Reg­is­tra­tion for the 2018 sea­son will be held at the Delhi Arena to­wards the end of Jan­uary. More in­for­ma­tion on the club can be found at nor­folk­soc­cer.ca.

JA­COB ROBIN­SON/SIM­COE RE­FORMER

This was the scene at the E & E McLaughlin Sports Park after van­dals drove a ve­hi­cle on the pitch last week. A group of teens has taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for the in­ci­dent and will be part of resti­tu­tion ef­forts.

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