The existing soccer fields in Richmond Hill are inadequate. There are not enough fields and the fields are in very poor condition. On Aug. 3, 2004, Recreation Director Pratt Lockwood reported to the county commission that "the largest need in South Bryan at this time is soccer fields." To help address this and other problems, the county purchased the land for Henderson Park. The original plans for Henderson Park included 6 new soccer fields. This plan was later modified by the county commission "with the addition of two football fields." The first two fields at Henderson Park have now been completed, as football fields. Magnificent football fields they are, built at a cost of around $1 million each, with excellent lighting and synthetic turf. There is a minimal concession to soccer in that both fields include lines for a full sized soccer field and have combination soccer/football goals. However, this is woefully inadequate for the needs of the soccer program. Most of our children do not use full sized fields – they play on small sized fields and there is no provision for this on the new fields. Combination goals are unsatisfactory. There is no other facility that I know of in Georgia that plays competitive youth club soccer with this type of goal. The county is currently working on the installation of two grass fields, due to be completed by the fall, but even these fields have been referred to several times in County Commission meetings as "soccer/football fields."
Soccer is not a minor sport in Richmond Hill. There are more children enrolled in soccer than in any other sport. Soccer is a sport at which Richmond Hill High School routinely excels, with the girls team in particular regularly achieving a high state ranking. The Richmond Hill Soccer Club places less demand on county resources than other sports – the club is entirely self-managed by volunteers who take care of registration, uniforms, scheduling, field layout and minor field maintenance. The only role for county employees is to cut and reline the fields.
What has been done so far at Henderson Park is very disappointing. There is not even one fully satisfactory soccer field there. Preference has been given to providing football fields. The original plans for soccer fields were not quite adequate (we need more than six fields) but what is being implemented does not even come close to filling the need.