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Clubs in bid to secure Finsbury Park athletics track’s future

PUBLISHED: 17:15 21 November 2012

Jerry Odlin. Picture: Tony Gay

Jerry Odlin. Picture: Tony Gay

TONY GAY at tonephote@aol.com

Volunteers have the green light to take over running Finsbury Park’s athletics track, where Islington-born sprinter Dwain Chambers started his career.

The Finsbury Park Sports Partnership (FPSP) takes over the gym and tennis courts next spring, in a deal rubber-stamped by Haringey Council which is responsibile for the space.

The partnership of four sports clubs that use the facilities needs £1.3million to refurbish the track and build a new tennis pavilion with floodlights.

Jerry Odlin, interim chairman of FPSP, said: “Right now the athletics track is in such a poor state. It’s ‘uncertified’, which means we can’t even use it for competition.

“We are taking it on because the alternative is that they close it, and we don’t want that. It isn’t a simple task. All of this is being done by people volunteering.”

Mr Odlin said FPSP – London Heathside Athletics Club, London Blitz American Football Club, Dynamic Sports Academy and Access to Sport – has two years to prove itself. He said if it achieves its funding goals, then it will be handed a full lease.

“We have already been given some positive vibes by bodies such as Sport England,” he said. “I hope the success of the Olympics means funders will look upon this as a worthwhile project, particularly as it serves some difficult areas in Islington, Hackney and Haringey.

“If that doesn’t push all the right buttons, I don’t know what does. The vision is to have a great facility available for track and field athletes primarily.”

Cllr Richard Watson, Haringey’s cabinet member for communities, said: “We’ve been really impressed with the partnership’s commitment. They are a fantastically dedicated team of volunteers who are taking on a huge amount of work to try to make this scheme a success.”

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