Teens ruin kids' game

PARK PROBLEMS: Softball coach Jamie Brear says drunk teens are ruining Sturges Park for local kids.
PARK PROBLEMS: Softball coach Jamie Brear says drunk teens are ruining Sturges Park for local kids.

Young athletes are being scared to tears at a popular sports park.

But softball coach Jamie Brear won't let them be driven out.

Mr Brear was among a group of coaches running a children's T-ball class at Sturges Park in Otahuhu when about 40 or 50 teenagers showed up and started drinking, in clear breach of a liquor ban.

Two young women broke into a fight five minutes later and hit each other with glass bottles.

The police soon arrived but not before a group of 3-year-olds playing T-ball near the incident were left in tears, Mr Brear says.

It isn't the first time the park has been marred by teen drinking.

A group of young people has taken some of the softball club's seats to create a drinking spot on the side of a hill, Mr Brear says.

Many bottles litter the area and coaches have taken to doing clean-ups every time a sporting event is held.

"We're finding used condoms, broken glass and rubbish and it's all where the kids have to play."

Parents are now scared to bring their children to the park and the athletes are missing out on sporting opportunities, he says.

"We can't expose children to that but we're not going to let them bully us out of the park."

Counties Manukau police west area commander Inspector Jason Hewett says liquor ban breaches often spike over summer.

"People tend to socialise outdoors more and take advantage of the warmer weather and in some cases they may gravitate towards public parks."

Police are stepping up their patrols of public places as a result, he says.

Otahuhu College principal Neil Watson says he's aware students from his school are among those drinking in Sturges Park.

It's "unacceptable" behaviour and the school is taking measures to stop it, he says.

"One of the key things for us is the more activities kids can be involved in, the more times they're being involved in sport or cultural activities, that's going to help them have active and productive lives and help the community and keep them out of trouble.

"So we're working hard to increase those opportunities."

Manukau Courier