Vandals target kid footballers

A YOUTH football club based in the Dispatch district has made a desperate plea for help after suffering a series of break-ins and vandalism at their ground.

Bestwood Park Rangers, who play at Bestwood Country Park, run nine teams, from the ages of nine to 15, and also a soccer school for five-to-seven-year-olds.

But since the summer, their wooden clubhouse at the country park has been broken into THREE times. So now they are appealing for donations of cash or equipment from local businesses or individuals.

The club have even applied for a grant of up to £6,000 from the NatWest Community Force scheme, which supports local projects and charities.

And they urged residents to vote for their project to be handed a grant. Voting closed last week and Rangers are waiting to see if they have been successful.

“All we are asking from the community is to help us help the kids,” says Rangers’ secretary Becky Williams. “To give the children a better and more secure place to play and the chance to enjoy their sport.

“Any donations, financial or material, would be gratefully accepted.”

The raids happened in June and September. In the first two, stock worth more than £450 was stolen from a tuck shop that Rangers run.

In the third, the vandals somehow got in through six-foot high steel doors, bolt-cropping the padlocks. They then trashed the changing-rooms, throwing kit and footballs about before stealing another £200 worth of tuck-shop stock.

They also broke into the men’s toilets and stole a copper hot-water tank, leaving the club without hot water.

Rangers have also been hit by two other attempted raids and on one occasion, officials suspect the vandals tried to burn the building down too.

The police are investigating but, in the meantime, Becky says she is anxious to get the message across to the local community.

“The money that comes into the club is all from the kids’ subs, so these robbers are actually stealing from the kids,” she says.

“These are youngsters whose parents are all feeling the pinch financially. We also have kids who are disabled and disadvantaged.

“All we are trying to do is teach them how to play football. We would be grateful for any help so we can get better security for our clubhouse or even build a brand new one.”