Friday, 1 November 2013

Reportage: Lightwaves is a model example of community and lottery in harmony

Young people in Wakefield will be offered free badminton racquets when they sign up to an eight-week introductory course at Lightwaves Leisure Centre, thanks to lottery funding.

Starting on January 17 next year, the course is open to beginners and intermediate players aged from 11 and above.

The project would not have been possible without a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery and is one of four courses being offered next year in addition to introductory courses in football, table tennis and cricket.

Mohammed Ayub, director of Lightwaves Community Trust, which runs the centre, said: “We’re looking to get young people interested so they go on to join local clubs – we wouldn’t be able to do it without the lottery’s help.”

The trust formed at the end of last year, when Wakefield Council announced it could no longer afford to run Lightwaves because of expensive repairs needed to its swimming pool.

The future of the centre now relies on user groups signing up to use its facilities, and grant funding.

The centre provides a base for boxing, football, basketball, martial arts, roller derby, table tennis and circuit training, giving youngsters in the community a vital facility.

Coaching for the badminton course will be provided by five members of Wakefield Warriors Badminton Club.

One of the coaches, Mark Illidge, has been playing badminton for more than 40 years.

He said: “We want to get beginners to just enjoy the game and see that they can pick up the basics quite easily.

“For more intermediate players, we’ll focus on things like court position and shot selection that will help to develop them into more advanced players.

“When you get to a good standard, it’s actually the fastest racquet game in the world – it can be a very competitive, highly-skilled game.”

The course is run in partnership with Badminton England who are looking to encourage new players by providing free racquets when they start the course.

Lightwaves offically reopened in March this year and, as well as the £10,000 lottery grant, is about to undergo a refurbishment programme thanks to a grant of £50,000 from Sport England.

The funding will be spent on refurbishments and upgrades to the centre, including a brand new changing area with new shower and toilet facilities which are desperately needed.

Mohammed Ayub said: “The new facilities will be more environmentally friendly and will hopefully make the leisure centre more appealing to the local community.

“This is just one of the many improvements we plan on making over the year to attract more people. to use the centre.”

This article was published in the Wakefield Express on November 1, 2013

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