Polk County kids discover their soccer field was torn apart by apparent joy ride


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – Hundreds of children in Polk County are learning it’s hard to kick a ball around when the field is covered in tire tracks.

“I find whoever did this was selfish, doesn’t seem to care about kids,” said Les Moore, president of the Winter Haven Youth Soccer Association.

Moore got an alarming call on Tuesday from a Polk County employee. The soccer field at Simmers-Young Park, used by hundreds of youth soccer players aged 3-19, was torn up.

“Someone took, I’m going to assume, some sort of truck or heavy duty SUV and just run circles around it, creating a donut around the track,” said Moore.

Moore, soccer players, coaches and others in the local soccer community were devastated.

The Association saw a dip in participation this year because of the coronavirus pandemic but it still serves hundreds of children. Now, upcoming soccer games will have to be relocated, as the field is unplayable.

“It’s trespassing and it’s destruction of public property and it’s not just grass. It’s more than that,” said Moore.

Moore tells 8 On Your Side the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

The sheriff’s office did not respond to our request for information on Thursday. Moore estimates it will take months to re-sod the field.

“This is a second home to children. There’s kids out there that need our program,” said Karen Bingham, a board member, Registrar and coach.

Bingham started a GoFundMe to help pay for repairing the field, purchasing security cameras and replacing some stolen golf carts.

“To pull money out of our nonprofit to try to replace golf carts and fix fields, it’s just not there for us,” she said.

The Winter Haven Youth Soccer Association is planning a work day on Saturday from 9 am to noon to start trying to fix the mess, in addition to other things.

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