Thief steals local youth soccer team's funds - FOX 13 News

Thief steals local youth soccer team's funds

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Gwinnett Soccer Association team members raised money for two tournament trips (photo by Timothy Bryant). Gwinnett Soccer Association team members raised money for two tournament trips (photo by Timothy Bryant).

Police are looking for a thief who stole a local youth soccer club's money.

Coach Bruno Kalonji's Gwinnett Soccer Association team is nationally ranked and on their way to the regional tournament in Oklahoma City and the national tournament in Kansas City. The coach says it's an amazing opportunity for the young players, who come from various backgrounds and countries.

"All of our boys are going to have the opportunity to play in front of about 200 college coaches," said team manager Michael Samnik.

When not training, the boys have begun raising money for the tournaments, which will cost about $30,000. Fundraising has included everything from standing on busy street corners, asking for money to bagging groceries for tips at a local Kroger.

"We actually do very well with that; people are very generous and support us," said Samnik.

After bagging groceries for several hours, team members took a break at a restaurant across the street from Kroger.

While inside the restaurant, someone broke into the team manager's truck and took the bag filled with money.

"The boys were out in the parking lot at that time. When I turned around said, ‘The money is gone,' all the boys were right there, and it was just heartbreaking," said Samnik.

The thief took an estimated $3,500.

"You feel devastated, like all the work you did just goes to waste," said one player.

Still, the players said they will continue to raise money for their tournaments.

Ironically, just a short time before the theft, the team manager had helped capture a suspected shoplifter in the Kroger parking lot.

Police don't believe there's any connection to the two incidents.

The team has set up a website in hopes of getting some donations. For more information, or to make a donation, visit:

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