Goal poach­ers

YOUNG­STERS AT FOOT­BALL CLUB UN­ABLE TO PLAY AFTER £7K WORTH OF EQUIP­MENT IS STOLEN

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By VICKY MUNRO vicky.munro@reach­plc.com @vick­y_afm

MEM­BERS of a Hayes youth foot­ball club are dev­as­tated and un­able to play after their goals, worth £7,000, were dis­man­tled and stolen.

A dog walker no­ticed the miss­ing goals late on Tues­day Oc­to­ber 2 and alerted the club.

The heavy alu­minium frames may have been dis­man­tled for sale as scrap me­tal, a com­mit­tee mem­ber be­lieves.

Now Sandgate FC wor­ries for the fu­ture of their vol­un­teer-run club and its of­ten dis­ad­van­taged teenage play­ers, who could miss out on ap­pren­tice­ships and may end up in­volved in street crime.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Wendy Be­vis, 55, said: “Things like this are heart­break­ing. Hayes is not an area with a lot of money and we see a lot of kids from sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­lies or sit­u­a­tions with poverty.

“It’s the boys aged 14 to 16 we worry about most be­cause those are the ones you want to keep off the streets. We usu­ally have the kids three times a week and it gives them fo­cus, teaches them great work skills and leaves them with no time to start trou­ble.

“We see a lot of kids with­out dads and the coaches can be a pos­i­tive role model in their lives. A lot of them would never see a bloke oth­er­wise, apart from teach­ers, which isn’t the same.”

The club can also pro­vide its play­ers with ca­reers, whether that means play­ing at a pro­fes­sional level or ap­pren­tice­ships, but such op­por­tu­ni­ties could be lost if they can­not raise the £7,000 needed to re­place both sets of goals.

Wendy said: “They’re very ex­pen­sive be­cause when you have got 17 or 18 year-old boys blast­ing the ball hard enough to break bone, you need to make sure they are safe.

“If a goal is flimsy and falls apart then kids can be hit on the head and die, which has hap­pened in the past, so they have to be heavy and bolted to­gether se­curely.

“Be­sides there’s no point get­ting some­thing low qual­ity if you want to train kids prop­erly.

“We keep the goals chained up and pad­locked to the fences so it would have taken them hours and hours to steal.

“There were lit­tle pieces left from where they had been sawn apart and un­screwed, so clearly they’ve not been taken to be used. It must have been planned be­cause you would have to go there with a lorry and you’d need more than one per­son to carry it all. It would have been a hell of a job.”

Uxbridge Foot­ball Club have of­fered two pitches for use on Sun­day morn­ing but, at present, Sandgate has no long-term so­lu­tion and will likely have to move back to their orig­i­nal home at Pinkwell Park.

How­ever, Wendy, who comes from a fam­ily of life-long foot­ball fa­nat­ics, is de­voted to keep­ing the club alive.

She said: “Ev­ery­one in­volved in run­ning the club is a vol­un­teer. My hus­band gets up at 7am on week­ends to cut the grass and coach and prob­a­bly works about 16 to 17 hours on top of his reg­u­lar job if you add it all up.

“He’s been do­ing it for 35 years since he was 19 years old and we have three teenage sons who all love foot­ball too. My son is now train­ing to be a sports jour­nal­ist, which he says is be­cause his whole life has been the foot­ball club ev­ery week­end since the age of two. One of my other sons went to his first game in his pram at just a week old.

“It’s a pas­sion that a lot of peo­ple don’t get if it’s not their thing. We don’t re­ally go on hol­i­days and we have even missed wed­dings if there is a game on. To us it’s ev­ery­thing.

“Foot­ball is a re­ally ex­pen­sive busi­ness and at the top of the pyra­mid there is a lot of money, but at the grass­roots level it can get very tight.

“We hope that peo­ple who have played for us in the past or just who en­joy grass­roots foot­ball will help us raise the money so we can keep go­ing.”

The Met Po­lice were in­formed of the theft but closed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion due to a lack of ev­i­dence.

A Met spokeswoman said: “On Wed­nes­day Oc­to­ber 3, po­lice re­ceived re­ports that goal­posts had been stolen from Stock­ley Park, Hilling­don. It is be­lieved they were taken at some point be­tween Sun­day Septem­ber 30 and Tues­day Oc­to­ber 2.

“Of­fi­cers made an as­sess­ment of the ev­i­dence avail­able and a de­ci­sion was taken to close the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion can be re­opened if any fur­ther ev­i­dence comes to light.”

The vol­un­teer­run clubs means a lot to all the chil­dren and teens who play there

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