Vandalism mars Lakehurst-Manchester youth soccer season
Volunteers and young players in the Lakehurst-Manchester Soccer Association approach the new season with a mixture of eagerness and dread. Repeated vandalism forces moms, dads and kids to scramble for enough money for repairs to offset damage and carry out the schedule.
Facebook images posted by the non-profit group graphically illustrate hooded vandals creating chaos in the predawn hours of August 7. It's the latest of a series of nearly a year's worth of incidents.
In addition to rutted and spray-painted fields, broken fences, invasion and damage in the equipment storage room and a reported rest-room break-in attempt, the snack bar has been subject to destruction three times including Sunday night, parents said.
A parent who contacted WOBM said that while trashing the stand, suspects stole an estimated $300 worth of items.
LMSA notified Manchester police. A volunteer with the non-profit group said that, given their face coverings, only help from the community can help investigators track them down.
"The money from sales from the snack stand pays our referees," the parent explained, "helps purchase the paint that is used to line the fields. Pretty much everything goes right back into the organization. It has even been used towards end of year celebrations or tournaments."
A Manchester Patch article in March of this year bears an image of a badly-scarred field, torn by what appears to be all-terrain vehicles or dirt bikes.
The damage forced LMSA President Erik Myers to close Field 2 for the season that began in early April, while he managed to patch Field 1. The damage to Field 2 is so deep that it likely will remain closed again for the new season, one parent confides.
The all-volunteer staff sees itself as losing its battle against vandals, and is now reaching out to business owners for help, such as landscaping or sod firms that can help repair the fields, and locksmiths or security companies that can reinforce break-in protections.
This is over and above the group's attempt of the past three years to raise enough money for stadium lights. Parents express deep gratitude to the tight circle of families and individuals who consistently support LMSA, but now hope to expand it.