Dapto football club players will be on the sidelines once again only weeks after finally returning to the field following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
On the weekend, unregistered trail bike riders tore up six of the seven soccer fields at Lakelands Oval, the home ground of Dapto Phoenix Football Club.
The joy-rides have created tracks, some ankle-deep, all over the fields after rain soaked the ground.
The vandalism has left club president Ashley Sulcs, along with the committee, players and parents, feeling disappointed.
"This is the worst damage done to the field," he said. "Generally we get one or two tracks every couple of weeks throughout the season that can be fixed relatively easily by squashing back down the dirt, but this is the worst I have seen.
"The six fields can't be played on because it is unsafe and the seventh field is only a training field.
"I am not really surprised it happened as it we get tracks quite regularly but this time is particularly disheartening.
"The kids have only been back playing for a few weeks and now they will likely have to miss out on another couple of weeks."
Ms Sulcs said he was notified of the vandalism by residents who live nearby the fields on Tuesday afternoon as no games were held over the weekend due to wet weather.
"The residents believe it possibly occurred on Friday or Saturday night," he said.
Mr Sulcs said the council and police had been notified of the damage.
He is hoping to work with the council, who own the fields the club leases, to fix the damage as it will be expensive for the club to repair.
"It would take more than 10 hours to fix, a lot of river sand and a roller," Ms Sulcs said. "I've had more than 30 volunteers offer to be involved in the working bee if we have to fix it ourselves."
Wollongong Acting Lord Mayor Tania Brown said she was also disappointed that the actions of few impacted many young people who use the field.
"It is reckless behaviour not to mention the financial cost to ratepayers when the council has to fix the field," she said.
"Staff will be talking with the club to see what needs to be done to remediate the field."
The ground is still wet from the downpour so it is not yet known how long it will take to repair the grounds.
The kids have only been back playing for a few weeks and now they will likely have to miss out on another couple of weeks."Club president Ashley Sulcus
Mr Sulcs said he would like to see the council work on a plan to prevent illegal trail bike riders from getting onto the Dapto fields.
"There are nine entry and exit points that riders can easily get through," he said. "Perhaps if there were staggered barriers at the entry points, the riders would have to get off their bikes to enter and that might deter them."
Cr Brown said it would be very hard, and expensive, for council to put in measures to prevent the trail bike riders from accessing the field but said staff would look into the options.
Mr Sulcs said the club had received a state government grant to fence one of the fields and was working with council to get it installed.
Lake Illawarra Police crime prevention officer Sergeant Peter Northey said officers were investigating the incident and encouraged residents to report illegal trail bike riding as soon as they heard or saw it.
"The riders have committed multiple traffic and malicious damage offences," he said. "All training and weekend games have needed to be cancelled as it is unsafe to play, which has affected hundreds of families.
"We take reports of illegal and unregistered trail bike riding seriously.
"We need to get as much information as possible so we can catch the riders and put them before the courts.
"Also, if people see illegal trail bike riders come and go from nearby homes they should report it to police."
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