Youths that damaged field will have role in solution: club
This was the result of two vehicles entering the E & E McLaughlin Sports Park soccer fields in Delhi late Saturday/early Sunday. At this point, Norfolk Soccer Club board members are unsure just how much it will cost to repair the extensive damage, and how they'll fund the venture. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.