WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – Hundreds of children in Polk County are learning that it’s hard to kick a ball when the terrain is covered in tire tracks.
“I found whoever did this was selfish, didn’t seem to care about the kids,” said Les Moore, president of the Winter Haven Youth Soccer Association.
Moore received an alarming call from a Polk County employee on Tuesday. The Simmers-Young Park soccer field, used by hundreds of young soccer players aged 3 to 19, has been demolished.
“Someone took, I’m going to assume, some sort of heavy truck or SUV and just circled around it, creating a donut around the track,” Moore said.
Moore, soccer players, coaches and other members of the local soccer community were devastated.
The Association has seen a drop in attendance this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it still serves hundreds of children. From now on, the next football matches will have to be moved, because the pitch is unplayable.
“It’s an intrusion and it’s destruction of public property and it’s not just weed. It’s more than that, ”Moore said.
Moore tells 8 On Your Side that the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
The sheriff’s office did not respond to our request for information on Thursday. Moore estimates that it will take months to regas the land.
“It’s a second home for the children. There are kids who need our program, ”said Karen Bingham, Board Member, Registrar and Coach.
Bingham started a GoFundMe to help pay for course repairs, the purchase of security cameras, and the replacement of some stolen golf carts.
“To take money out of our nonprofit to try to replace golf carts and fix the grounds, it’s just not there for us,” she said.
The Winter Haven Youth Soccer Association is planning a work day on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon to start trying to repair the damage, in addition to other things.