Norwich church football team hit by arson attack
By Keith Morris
2009: A Norwich
church’s football team has lost all its equipment, worth over £700, in an arson attack which completely gutted a community centre on the Heartsease estate
in Norwich, but they have vowed to rise from the ashes.
Witard Road Baptist Church, who won the Norfolk Christian Football League title last season, kept all their equipment in The Kabin on Sale Road next to the Heartsease Towers.
Eight fire crews from across the county tackled the blaze in the metal-roof-topped building at around 10.30pm on Saturday night (May 16).
Police are still investigating the fire at The Kabin on Sale Road, Heartsease but a spokeswoman from Norwich City Council, which owns the building, said it is now clear it will need to be demolished, and a demolition contractor has been asked to look at the site.
The attack was the most serious in a series of incidents across Norwich the same night.
Witard Road FC manager, Mike Culwick, said: “We lost all our equipment, including two sets of goals, three sets of nets, training bibs, all our footballs, my line marker and line marking materials and training cones. We also lost a respect pack, pumps, first aid stuff and cans of spray line markers."
Fortunately the team have finished for the season and Nick Lewis and Mike who manage the teams, are determined to be ready for next season
“Heartsease Lane Methodist church has already given us £140, the Old Catton Football Club have helped and hopefully the FA and Football in the Community will take pity on us and provide some gear, we will have to go cap in hand and try.
"This setback will not stop the work we are doing. It will just make us more determined. We plan to rise from the ashes and we will be up and running for next season somehow and aim to be running two youth teams.
"Nick has a vision of fielding a team for every age group on the Heartsease estate where facilities for young people are virtually non-existent. The churches on the estate together with East Norfolk Youth Project provide almost all the much needed resources for young people," said Mike.
"The football club started ten years ago and it is our intention to build on a firm foundation not made up of medals and silverware but on friendships, relationships and do our part to bring together the community which makes up the Heartsease. We do not see this fire as a tragedy but as an opportunity to see how good will overcome evil."
Norfolk Christian League vice chairman, Kevin Timewell-Read, said: “I was very sorry to hear that Witard Road had lost all their footballing equipment in this senseless attack. Mike and his helpers have been running a very valuable work among the youngsters on the Heartsease estate for some time and NCCAYL will do everything they can to ensure that the Witard Road teams are equipped to play next season.
“I don’t think this will stop us running our annual League youth five-a-side on June 6 on the adjacent field. Access from the car park may be restricted but I am sure that will not cause a major problem. I am hoping that the events team at Norwich City Council will confirm that we can go ahead with the event during this coming week.”
Above, The Kabin ablaze (picture courtesy of Evening News24)
Below, Witard Road collect the NCCAYL trophy last year.