Tire tracks and deep circular ruts left on a football pitch in Wellfield Park are disrupting Ramona Soccer League play in the middle of their season, officials said Monday.
Gardeners first discovered the vandalism on Friday morning, said Kevin Justice, Ramona Soccer League board member. Intra-squad players took even more damage when they showed up for their game on Saturday.
“They found the terrain completely ruined with deeper ruts and even more tire tracks, making the terrain completely unplayable,” Justice said, noting that the season ends in the first week of November. “It doesn’t just affect the games. This affects the entire training program.
“Looks like they were trying to go for a ride and they were doing it on a kids’ soccer field unlike most of the open pitches we have here in Ramona,” he added.
Justice said a report had been filed with the Ramona Sheriff’s Department and an investigation was underway. Although the culprits have not been apprehended, he said football officials had information that two vehicles were involved. They suspect trucks were used, depending on the type of tire tread, he said.
Tommy Perfect, another member of the league’s board, said he hopes the vandals will come forward and admit what they have done.
“I hope they help repair the damage they’ve done and understand that there are consequences to your actions,” Perfect said. “When someone comes to vandalize something, it takes a lot of work to fix it.”
The board hopes to avoid postponing future football matches and is meeting Monday night to discuss their rescheduling, Justice said. The league is already short of referees, so it will be a challenge to revise its game schedule, he said.
“Obviously the kids are very disappointed and frustrated,” he said. “They ask the question, ‘why?’ It’s hard to explain to young children.
Barricades were put up as a temporary solution to block the entrance to the pitch, and football officials were given cost estimates for the repairs. The next steps could be the installation of security cameras, motion detectors and fences, Justice said.
The board is accepting donations to help cover costs and, by Saturday night, it had received about $ 500, according to Justice. The financial impact will be significant, he said, as the league is small and doesn’t charge high fees for traveling teams.
Several people donated and others offered to help build fences or add security cameras, which can also be the target of vandals, Perfect said.
“There isn’t a huge budget that we have access to to fix something like this,” said Perfect, who played on the field while growing up. “We have to find a place to withdraw the money. We do our best to keep the prices low for players and their families, so that we don’t have a huge contingency fund for vandalism.
Donations can be made to the Venmo League account @ramonasoccer in the corporate category or can be sent to the Ramona Soccer League at PO Box 463, Ramona, CA 92025. Anyone with information relating to the incident is asked to ” call 760-440-5368 or the Ramona Sheriff’s Department at 760-789-9157.