Goals worth [pounds sterling]7,000 stolen from Hayes youth football club in 'soul-destroying' crime; Sandgate Football Club are worried they will be unable to play unless they can raise the money to replace both sets of goals.
Members of aHayesyouth football club are devastated and unable to play after their goals, worth [pounds sterling]7,000 in total, were dismantled and stolen.
A dog walker noticed the missing goals late on Tuesday night (October 2) and alerted the club.
The heavy aluminium frames may have been dismantled for sale as scrap metal, a committee member believes.
Now Sandgate FC worries for the future of their volunteer-run club and its often disadvantaged teenage players, who could miss out on apprenticeships and vital skills or even end up involved in street crime.
Committee member Wendy Bevis, 55, said: "Things like this are heartbreaking. Hayes is not an area with a lot of money and we see a lot of kids from single-parent families or situations with poverty.
"It's the boys between 14-16 we worry about most because those are the ones you want to keep off the streets.
"We usually have the kids three times a week and it gives them focus, teaches them great work skills and leaves them with no time to start trouble. We see a lot of kids without dads and the coaches can be a positive role model in their lives. A lot of them would never see a bloke otherwise, apart from teachers, which isn't the same."
The club can also provide its players with careers, whether that means playing at a professional level or apprenticeships, but such opportunities could be lost if they cannot raise the [pounds sterling]7,000 needed to replace both sets of goals.
Wendy said: "They're very dear because when you have got 17 or 18-year-old boys blasting the ball hard enough to break bone, you need to make sure they are safe.
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"If a goal is flimsy and falls apart then kids can be hit on the head and die, which has happened in the past, so they have to be heavy and bolted together securely. Besides there's no point getting something low quality if you want to train kids properly.
"We keep the goals chained up and padlocked to the fences so it would have taken them hours and hours to steal.
"There were little pieces left from where they had been sawn apart and unscrewed so clearly they've not been taken to be used. It must have been planned because you would have to go there with a lorry and you'd need more than one person to carry it all, it would have been a hell of a job."
Uxbridge Football Clubhave offered two pitches for use on Sunday morning but, at present, Sandgate has no long-term solution and will likely have to move back to their original home at Pinkwell Park.
However, Wendy, who comes from a family of life-long football fanatics, is devoted to keeping the club alive.
She said: "Everyone involved in running the club is a volunteer. My husband gets up at 7am on weekends to cut the grass and coach and probably works about 16-17 hours on top of his regular job if you add it all up.
"He's been doing it for 35 years since he was 19 years old and we have three teenage sons who all love football too.
"My son is now training to be a sports journalist, which he says is because his whole life has been the football club every weekend since the age of two. One of my other sons went to his first game in his pram at just a week old.
"It's a passion that a lot of people don't get if it's not their thing. We don't really go on holidays and we have even missed weddings if there is a game on. To us it's everything.
"Football is a really expensive business and at the top of the pyramid there is a lot of money but at the grassroots level it can get very tight. We hope that people who have played for us in the past or just who enjoy grassroots football will help us raise the money so we can keep going."
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The Met Police were informed of the theft but closed the investigation due to a lack of evidence.
A Met spokeswoman said: "On Wednesday October 3, police received reports that goalposts had been stolen from Stockley Park, Hillingdon. It is believed they were taken at some point between Sunday September 30 and Tuesday October 2.
"Officers made an assessment of the evidence available and a decision was taken to close the investigation. The investigation can be reopened if any further evidence comes to light."
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Credit: Sandgate FC
One of Sandgate Football Club's many successful teams