Youth football team sidelined after field destroyed by vandals

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- The Camden Raiders, about 80 kids from the Fairview section of Camden ranging from ages 5-14, were forced to practice on the sidelines of their football field Tuesday night after someone destroyed their grounds.

"We came to practice on Monday and seen that somebody came out here with a truck and just destroyed our field, from field goal to field goal," said Coach Robert Kelley.

The culprit cut wide loops, leaving circles of turned up grass and mud everywhere. In some places leaving deep pits that would make it hazardous for kids to play.

"I hope they see this and realize what they did because we're out here trying to do a good thing for these kids and keep them off the streets. And that's like setting them back, you know?" said Kelley. "So basically whoever did this, they should be ashamed of themselves."

Police say surveillance cameras at the community center may have captured the vehicle and person who did this.
"This is a despicable act of vandalism, and we're taking this seriously. There's an active investigation going on," said Camden County Police Spokesman Dan Keashan.

The team was scheduled to play at home on Saturday, but now will have to travel to Pemberton instead.

"Which means we gotta get bus fare, we gotta pay referees there and everything else, so instead of making money here on our field to pay for this," said Kelley. "This stuff ain't free."

The organization, which started a year ago, often times pays for things out of their own pockets and provides this much-needed program to the kids for free.

"If you got 80 kids out here staying out of the streets and getting out of trouble, you should be thankful that somebody's out here spending their time to do that with them, so to take this away from them is horrible you know," said Kelley.

The city of Camden did inspect the field Tuesday, and will see what it can do to get the field back in shape, but it could take a week, maybe longer.
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