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Sporting celebration marks Sobell Centre’s major makeover

Young athletes have celebrated a major makeover of Islington’s much-loved Sobell Leisure Centre.
 
There is an ongoing programme of improvements at the leisure centre – in Hornsey Road, N7 – which saw its 40th birthday in 2013.
 
The latest phase of the Sobell upgrade includes increasing the size of the gym, building a new state-of-the-art boxing gym, as well as renovating the sports hall so there are more opportunities for sports such as football, basketball, netball, volleyball, and gymnastics. The changing rooms have also been upgraded.
 
The works cost £1.2 million – of which Sport England contributed £425,000, while London Marathon Charitable Trust provided £150,000. Islington Council funded the rest. 
 
On Tuesday 16 June representatives from Sport England, the London Marathon Charitable Trust and London Sport joined Islington Council executive member for health and wellbeing Cllr Janet Burgess for a tour of the new facilities. The Mayor of Islington, Cllr Richard Greening, cut the ribbon to open the new boxing gym, accompanied by young local boxers.
 
Guests were then shown displays of boxing, netball, and volleyball, put on by local young people.
 
Cllr Burgess said: “The Sobell Leisure Centre is much-loved in Islington and plays a vital part in giving people of all ages access to a huge range of sports and activities.
 
“The new boxing gym and the improved gym, sports hall and changing areas are the last part in a series of investments that will help keep the Sobell Leisure Centre a big part of our residents’ lives for many years to come.

“We’d like to thank all the customers who have coped with disruption during the renovation work.”
 
Craig Woodward, General Manager of Sobell Leisure Centre, said: “The improvements that have been completed at Sobell Leisure Centre have enabled us offer a wide range of sports in the Sports Hall, along with the extension and refurbishment of the gym and the new boxing gym have helped to modernise the facilities available for the community.”

Local resident Maryann Oneyaka, who took part in one of the many 'taster sessions' at the event, described it as "brilliant". She said: "It was good to have different classes to see what suits you and your fitness. I'd definitely do it again."   
 
The improvements are the latest in a series of investments in the Sobell Leisure Centre.
 
In 2012, more than £250,000 was spent on improving facilities so the Sobell Centre could be used by 11 national volleyball sides as a practice venue for the Olympic Games in 2012, and in 2013 new flood-lit artificial surface football pitches were opened.

Tuesday's event took place as it was announced that, last year, half (49.9%) of the Islington population over the age of 14 participated in sport once a week. This is the fourth highest rate in England and the second highest in London.

The 2014/15 rate of 48.8% for people over the age 16 is the borough’s highest rate for sports participation among this age group since monitoring began in October 2005-2006, when Islington was then ranked 158th with 34%.

For more information about the sporting activities on offer at the Sobell Leisure Centre, visit: www.better.org.uk/leisure/sobell.

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Left to right in the top photo: Alexis Smith (Sobell leisure centre), Cllr Janet Burgess (Deputy Leader, Executive Member for Health and Well-being), Keon Figeroa, Mayor of Islington Cllr Richard Greening, Ricky Josephs, Joel Brookfield (Sport England), Ifeoma Onwurah (Sobell leisure centre).

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Left to right: Ricky Josephs, Mayor of Islington Cllr Richard Greening, Keon Figeroa

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Left to right: Mayor of Islington Cllr Richard Greening, Keon Figeroa, Ricky Josephs

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