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Determined mature man exercising with barbell in a health club.

Sports hub on its way Gunnersbury

The new gym and fitness facilities at the soon-to-be-open Gunnersbury Park sports hub will offer local people of all backgrounds an array of opportunities to stay active and healthy.

It will also act as a base for a number of sporting organisations, supporting them in their vital work in the local area.

One such group is Metro Blind Sport, which helps people with visual impairment compete, enjoy and engage in sports. The charity already helps almost 400 members get involved – and having access to the facilities at Gunnersbury will allow it to branch out even further into west London.

Sport development officer Charlie Raven explains: “We are incredibly excited to be extending our reach towards west London to deliver more sport and physical opportunities at this great new facility in Gunnersbury Park.

“With the support of Ealing Council and GLL, we will have a positive contribution towards the social, physical and mental health of visually impaired people within the local community.

“We will be providing two-hour sessions every week at Gunnersbury and we will work in partnership with other groups – all with the aim of enabling blind and partially sighted people to lead a more active, fulfilling life through sporting opportunities.”

Metro Blind Sport is providing opportunities for visually impaired tennis, football and cricket, and will also be working alongside Goalball UK when the sports hub opens. 

Goalball was developed in the 1940s as part of a rehabilitation programme for visually impaired veterans. It debuted as a Paralympic sport in 1976 and since then has hugely increased in popularity.

It involves two teams of three players, who try and score a goal by bowling the ball along the floor so that it crosses the goal line of the opposing team. It is open to both male and female visually impaired athletes – and sighted players can also play as all participants wear eyeshades so that they are totally blindfolded.

A Goalball player in action

Alex Bunney, participation lead at Goalball UK, said: “Goalball UK is delighted to be working alongside Metro Blind Sport to provide Goalball sessions in the new Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub.

“The sessions, funded by The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, are part of our wider developments in London to ensure blind and partially sighted people have the opportunity to be physically active. We can’t wait to get started.”

Gunnersbury’s new sports hub is a project led by Ealing and Hounslow councils, which jointly own the site; along with the community interest company that runs it on their behalf – and GLL (or ‘Better’ as it is more commonly known), which manages the sports facilities.

Once open, the hub will be piloting new technology that will see equipment literally light up to help you make the best of your workout.

There will also be a colour system around the gym floor which indicates which zone you are in, with a particular zone for beginners to build their confidence. Equipment such as spin bikes will work on a lighting system based on the rider’s profile, meaning that members of all levels can participate in a single class.

Council leader Julian Bell said: “The sports hub at Gunnersbury Park is set to offer local people of all ages and backgrounds a chance to participate in a really wide array of activities.

“Our long-term vision will see Gunnersbury Park as a place where local people can enjoy sport, beautiful green spaces and a rich local history long into the future.”

Sparkling new indoor sports and gym facilities are just a fraction of what is on offer at Gunnersbury Park. Eight new floodlit tennis courts; two top-level, floodlit 3G artificial pitches; grass pitches; and even a fishing pond are also part of the exciting project. 

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