Youths on bikes and quad bikes have trashed a football pitch used by children – by “doing doughnuts and wheel spins” on the grass.
A rapper organised the gang to meet at Ebbw Vale Junior in Cwm, south Wales to film a music video but the activity has ruined the pitch. Much of the grass at the venue has been chewed up by tyres.
The rapper, Dight 23, said he was “shocked and devastated” by the damage and claimed those responsible were not part of his meet.
RTB Ebbw Vale Junior Football Club has launched a fundraiser targeting £3,500 to repair the tyre tracks left across the field. The volunteer-run club said the damage caused on Sunday has left them “devastated for our children as they now don’t have a pitch to play on and being a grassroots club we have zero funding”.
The club — who host football for around 300 children aged five to 14 — said a match was played on Sunday morning and the pitch was locked up at about 12.30pm. That evening the club became aware of videos circulating social media showing a gathering at the field with loud rap music blaring and youths tearing across grass on quad bikes. Club media officer Alex Price estimated there were around 40 youths and 10 vehicles at the scene.
“I think there were two quad bikes, one car and the rest were dirt bikes,” she told WalesOnline.
“They were revving their engines as hard as they could, doing doughnuts, wheel spins. The car was really low to the ground, they were showing off. They ripped the grass to shreds… The field is absolutely ruined now.”
The videos prompted some locals to criticise Dight 23, whose Facebook page describes him as an “independent artist from South Wales”. The rapper, who has 25 Spotify listeners a month and 303 Facebook followers, had posted an invitation on social media: “My next music video shoot is booked for February 5 in Ebbw Vale. Anyone with bikes, quads, 4x4s or nice cars…” He went on to post on Sunday: “Today at 3pm turn up if you want to be involved!!! Bring you’re [sic] bikes and quads boys. 3pm Cwm field.”
Responding to the backlash, Dight 23 posted on Facebook: “I’ve noticed people have been trying to reach out to me, and tag me in different posts regarding Cwm football pitch, so I thought I’d get the story straight for you all. I had a video shoot at the skate park for my new music video and had about 15 bikes turn up for it and most of them behaved. The damage was done by two local boys who took it upon themselves to go on the field and show off, I didn’t tell anyone to rip up the football field… My music ain’t to blame, it’s the boys on quads you’re after!!!”
He said the “two local boys on quads” ripped up the field before he or his cameraman arrived. The rapper, whose songs include Petrol Life, said police showed up within 15 minutes and “spooked off” those boys. “Then we moved it to a different location. I didn’t invite any irresponsible riders, and I was shocked and devastated about the field also because I knew I would have the backlash.”
Dight 23 claimed: “Those who I invited mostly turned up on electric bikes and scooters.” When WalesOnline sent him footage of bikers ripping up grass during his meet, he said: “That’s not the football field, that’s the skate park… The football field is the green field in the background… If you look closer on the video it’s a fence dividing the bikes and the field.” He did not respond when WalesOnline pointed out that the footage showed damage being done to green space, albeit away from the football pitch itself.
Ms Price believes a broken section of fence was used by bikers to access the pitch. She hopes the fundraiser will help buy a more secure barrier to prevent future damage as well as repairing the “destroyed” field. Dight 23 said there was no illegal entry of any land during his meet.
Ms Price added that “a few amazing volunteers” put a huge effort into maintaining the land and earning platinum accreditation for its facilities. “We hold events, tea and coffee for the community, and they have always been fantastic in welcoming us,” she said. “They are gutted for us. I’ve seen a few posts on social media saying things like, ‘I hope RTBs don’t leave, I’m really gutted for the kids.'”
A Gwent Police spokeswoman said officers went to the area on Sunday afternoon after getting a call about damage being caused to the football pitch by people on off-road bikes.
The bikes then dispersed, she added. You can donate to the fundraiser here