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Kids lose out as Holloway sports centre closed for the Olympics

PUBLISHED: 15:32 16 July 2012 | UPDATED: 17:45 18 July 2012

The Sobell Centre

The Sobell Centre

Archant

Parents and children are horrified they can’t use their leisure centre for the whole of the Olympic games because volleyball teams have taken it over.

The Sobell Sports Centre, in Hornsey Road, Holloway, will be the training venue for volleyball teams during the games.

As a result, the main sports hall, junior gym and children’s play area are out of action for the public from now until August 20.

Some parents think that stopping grass-roots sports for children, including badminton, football and trampolining, for such a long time flies in the face of what the Olympics is all about.

Reserved

Jan van der Meule, 53, from nearby Mercer’s Road, regularly takes his two children to play badminton on a Sunday morning, but last week arrived to find the facilities reserved.

He said: “We go to the Sobell with a group of Islington families and the kids are at an age when badminton is just perfect for them.

“We came down this Sunday and couldn’t believe it was closed. It seems a very long time for it to be shut – four weeks before the games start. How much are they actually going to use it?

“There aren’t many sports facilities in Islington as it is – to close for seven weeks seems to defeat the very thing the Olympics is supposed to bring about – greater participation in exercise and physical activity.”

Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing at Islington Council, said: “We are thrilled the Sobell has been chosen as the Olympic Volleyball training venue and welcome the much-needed upgrade to the sports hall London 2012 has brought.

“Most of the centre remains open during our summer of sport. Residents can still use the gym, sauna, squash courts, exercise studios and ice rink.”

She said there were five other centres for members to use and free swimming for youngsters during the Games, as well as the improved five-a-side pitches in Highbury fields which are open to the public.

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