Van­dals cut club’s fu­ture

Central Leader - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

A RANDOM act of van­dal­ism has de­liv­ered a dev­as­tat­ing blow for a base­ball team that has worked tire­lessly to es­tab­lish it­self in a lo­cal park.

Ny­lon field net­ting that pro­vides cru­cial pro­tec­tion for spec­ta­tors has been slashed caus­ing the All Star Games that were to be held at Mt Roskill’s Fearon Park last Satur­day to be ur­gently re­lo­cated.

Cen­tral City Base­ball pres­i­dent Cathy Trudeau was alerted to the dam­age by a coun­cil mem­ber who vis­ited the park and saw the gap­ing hole left by van­dals.

‘‘Be­cause there is no se­cu­rity at the park we don’t know when it was done, and we have no idea why it was done,’’ she says.

Team coach Tim Ol­liff says the sec­tion of net­ting, which mea­sures ap­prox­i­mately four me­tres long by two me­tres high, might have been cut for fish­ing.

‘‘If some­body wants a piece of net then it’s an easy op­tion,’’ he says. ‘‘But the mas­sive void in the panel means that any balls hit in play will come through.’’

The net not only pro­tects spec­ta­tors, but also a walk­way and a play­ground that is in close prox­im­ity.

For the mod­est club it is a sad­den­ing turn of events af­ter years of per­se­ver­ance to cre­ate suit­able grounds for the team.

Ms Trudeau says it took the club half a decade to get a field. A pro­fes­sional-style di­a­mond pitch and back­stop net­ting was in­stalled only last year thanks to fi­nan­cial sup­port from the base­ball com­mu­nity.

‘‘Be­ing a smaller club we don’t have the funds to buy new nets, so we are at the mercy of peo­ple not to cut them down,’’ she says.

‘‘I think van­dals don’t re­alise the con­se­quences of what they do, we are a youth club so it’s the kids that miss out.’’

The dam­age to the nets means the All Star Games that were to bring six clubs from around Auck­land to Fearon Park last week­end had to be shifted at the last minute to Bay­side Westhaven Base­ball Club – where per­ma­nent wire fences are in place.

‘‘I was up un­til al­most mid­night try­ing to resched­ule the games, which we were really look­ing for­ward to host­ing here be­cause we want to have more vis­i­bil­ity,’’ Ms Trudeau says. ‘‘Things like this really cut us at the knees.’’

It is hoped the nets can be fixed be­fore the base­ball sea­son be­gins in Jan­uary.

How­ever, the net­ting will cost sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars – and could be sub­ject to re­peated plun­der­ing.

‘‘Ul­ti­mately the best so­lu­tion will be get­ting a wire mesh net, which would cost some­where in the vicin­ity of $10,000,’’ Mr Ol­liff says.

Ms Trudeau says she will be ap­peal­ing to the Puke­ta­papa Lo­cal Board for some fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Strike out:

Cathy Trudeau, left, Jake May and Tim Ol­liff from Cen­tral City Base­ball are up­set their nets have been cut.

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