Aiken County youth football parents voice concerns on field cost

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) – The kids of Aiken are having a hard time playing their youth football games due to money problems.

The youth soccer team has two options. Pay thousands of dollars in maintenance fees to Aiken County to use the local high school or drive to Wagener-Salley.

When a new factor came into play this offseason, parents were ready to fly a flag.

“That’s all we’ve known for years. Now they’re going to something very different,” said Diane Shealy, the center’s director.

Aiken’s Youth Football League wanted to use the field at South Aiken and Aiken High School for a total of 128 hours for 32 nights this season. But it’s expensive, totaling more than $90,000.

“Where we come from, our team gives their best. They can’t afford that,” she said.

Aiken’s advisory board granted a waiver of the rental fee, but that still left the league with a $26,000 tag on utilities, toiletries, and depot fees, eliminating the Chiefs from the field.

“They scattered us into Wagner, Ellington and Citizens Park and you know trying to find those fields was one of the big problems in the beginning. We have to defend ourselves somehow when we see our kids playing for their games,” she said.

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Wear and tear on the tires and the children.

Linda Williams is another Center Chiefs parent. She said: “A lot of parents say they won’t let their kids play football next year. My kids don’t like that. My daughter wants to do cheerleading next year and I don’t know because I don’t know what traveling will be like.”

Shealy says without football…

“We have nothing. It’ll make them get in trouble for doing things they shouldn’t do instead of focusing on, ‘We can look forward to this after school,'” she said.

The city of Aiken has been working to improve the situation for the teams. The city allowed the Odell Weeks Center and Generations Park to be used for games that season.

statement by dr Corey Murphy, ACPSD Chief Officer for Operations and Student Services:

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