Despite a recent act of arson that caused several thousand dollars in damage, the Thousand Oaks region of the American Youth Soccer Organization will keep the ball rolling.
A July 21 fire destroyed the soccer league's concessions trailer and an equipment shed, but AYSO will nonetheless kick off its fall season on schedule with an opening-day celebration Sept. 9.
However, raising funds to repair and replace the damaged equipment and buildings, at an estimated cost of $40,000, will take much longer.
"It's going to be a long season," said Sandy Clayton-Volk, the AYSO Region 9 commissioner. "It gets sad, it truly does. The repair cost to the league is very high."
Thus far, the league has raised nearly $19,000 through a variety of fund-raising efforts.
The culprits, who have not been apprehended, broke into the equipment shed through a ventilation-fan porthole and stole new soccer balls and slashed bags of chalk.
To add insult to injury, they used AYSO's spray paint to cover the buildings with graffiti. They also took charcoal for a season-opening cookout, spread it inside the concessions trailer and set fire to it.
The resultant conflagration triggered a combustion fire inside the adjacent equipment shed. The league lost 31 sets of new uniforms, containing 16 to 18 uniforms each, scores of balls and other equipment.
Clayton-Volk said that the trailer will cost $2,500 to replace and a new equipment shed, a 40-foot-long sea-cargo container, will cost an additional $2,950. The wiring and a chain-link enclosure also will have to be replaced.
About 1,600 children aged 5 to 18 participate in Thousand Oaks AYSO soccer, but they have been largely unaffected by the vandalism.
"Except for the board members' kids, who are really aware of it, the other kids aren't really aware of it at all," Clayton-Volk said.
The organization has not been able to insure its relatively isolated facility on Janss Road and Route 23 but will add a security system and plans to have the area patrolled.