Brazen criminals pitch a curveball

Athlone Athletics Baseball Club spokesman Warren Manshon and head coach Tony Alexander.
Athlone Athletics Baseball Club spokesman Warren Manshon
Athlone Athletics Baseball Club spokesman Warren Manshon

Matters relating to baseball and preparing for the upcoming season are being hampered by continuous instances of vandalism, burglaries and other criminal activities, says Athlone Athletics Baseball Club spokesman, Warren Manshon.

The club based at Vangate sports complex is currently running a winter programme to help players gear up for the season.

Like all sporting activity, baseball went into hibernation due to the extended lockdown period which was meant to curb the spread of the coranavirus.

While everyone was under lockdown, another virus, this in the form of criminal activity, reared its head in and around the clubhouse.

In June, says Manshon, club members started noticing that the fencing around the main field started disappearing.

With no security in place and everyone still under lockdown, criminals took advantage of the situation.

It appears, says Manshon, that the culprits had ample time to commit their crimes under the cloak of darkness with no one watching them.

Things eased up a bit towards the end of the year as restrictions were eased and clubs allowed to resume limited training.

Upon arrival mid-December, more damage was discovered as members noticed the City’s main switch board, which controls the outside lighting, had been tampered with, Manshon said. “I just wanted to make the community aware of the struggle that we as a community club are currently facing,” he said.

“Among other things, there’s vandalism and breaking into the facility which Athlone Athletics, as a community club, prides itself on,” he said. The club, in partnership with the City, has taken huge steps to ensure that we get the facility to a point that it’s considered a renowned facility,” he said.

We are always striving to improve the facility and make this a home for the children in the community,” he said.

“We serve a large part of the Bridgetown/Athlone communities. This is their home.

“Unfortunately, elements that we can not control, take it upon themselves to take potshots at us in terms of vandalising and breaking into a facility where a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears have gone into.

“This hurts,” he said, “because this is for the community. In February 2020, we were able to erect a complete outfield fence on our A-Field after a long negotiation with the City.

“Then Covid hit us. In July, we had the opportunity to come look at the field. That’s when we discovered that the fence we had erected just three months prior, had been taken apart. “We’re now sitting with a loss of about 300m metres of that fence. “We’re looking at about R70 000 to replace that fence,” Manshon said.

“That doesn’t help when we are trying to create an environment that is conducive for the development of young athletes.”

Manshon said the club has since been hit by a string of attempts to break-ins, some as recent as over the last two weeks and even earlier this week.

He appealed to the community to report theft or when someone tries to sell them stolen goods, such as the roll of fencing that had been removed. He called on more visible policing and for a security company to consider using the premises as a base.