A DEFIANT football chief says his club will fight to keep playing after losing £15,000 of equipment in an arson attack.
Firebugs smashed their way into a Castleford White Rose Ladies’ locked storage area on Willowbridge Lane in the early hours of Tuesday morning – destroying vital training equipment and team kits.
John Stearman, club chairman, said: “It’s absolutely despicable that someone could cause so much devastation to a community club for ladies and girls who want to play football.
“The heart of the club has been ripped out and £15,000 of equipment has gone up in smoke.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to continue and we’re going to have to rely on the generosity of local businesses and the community to replace what’s been lost.
“However, we must carry. We want to send out a message to whoever has done this that they will not stop us playing.”
Firefighters from Castleford and Normanton were called to reports of a blaze at club’s lock-up at Castleford Rugby Union Club’s ground just after 12.30am.
White Rose – which has been running since 1995 and was one of the first girls’ football teams in Yorkshire – used the container to store 100 training balls, 30 match balls, a generator, six reserve kits and equipment for after-game hospitality.
Mr Stearman said “It’s hard to understand why someone would do something like this.
“Other clubs have lock-ups nearby, but it’s ours that was hit. I believe the two containers next to ours suffered heat damage.
“The equipment built up over the last 16 years through hard work and community support has been destroyed overnight and it will be tough to recover from this.
“It’s difficult enough to fund our team – it costs between £7,000 and £9,000 a year to keep running.
“Both our senior teams are playing away from home this weekend and we need to make plans to ensure their games can still go ahead.
“Training balls, cones and bibs were all destroyed in the blaze so we’ll have to find other equipment.
“Our junior sides at playing at home, so their fixtures are in jeopardy.
“We hope that police catch whoever’s done this and anyone with any information comes forward. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we are going to fight to keep going.”
Witnesses or anyone with information should call police on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555111.