The future is looking brighter for a junior inline hockey club which was set to be made homeless.
Caerphilly Comets, who have been based in the town for almost a quarter of a century, have had a tumultuous month after they were informed that they would be unable to continue to use the hall in Caerphilly Leisure Centre to train due to a new type of floor being laid, and were given three weeks to find a new venue.
The Comets, who have around 40 members competing both nationally and regionally, were left without a contingency after being told that the replacement floor – made from a sponge vinyl – would be incompatible with wheeled sports, despite the club holding bookings until the end of August.
In a desperate attempt to fulfil their remaining fixtures, the club have been seeking a new home throughout May and are hopeful that facilities at Sue Noake Leisure Centre in Ystrad Mynach can cater for their needs.
Club secretary, Anthony Raven, said: “Sue Noake looks like its the only leisure centre with the correct floor and suitable facilities which is close enough, but it’s still an upheaval. We’ve been at Caerphilly Leisure Centre for 23 years.
“To be honest, it couldn’t have come at a worse time, at the tail-end of the season, and all the players are itching to get back to training.
“We need to iron out a few more details in terms of times, but we’ll always be entrenched in Caerphilly.”
Discussions between the club and Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Sport and Leisure team remain ongoing, with a proposal in place to extend the facility’s opening hours by four on a Sunday.
The club had visited St Cenydd and Risca leisure centres, as well as Llanbradach and Penyrheol community centres, but none were suitable, either with unprotected glass, high ceilings, or non-smooth walls.
Mr Raven paid tribute to the offers of help from other venues.
He said: “There’s been a lot of generosity from other leisure centres, which we’re grateful for, but they didn’t fit the bill.
“The council must have known about the plans to lay the new floor in Caerphilly way before we were told, and while we’d probably have ended up at the same place in the end, the transition could certainly have been made smoother had they communicated better.
“That having been said, I can’t fault them recently since offering their help to sort out a venue, but it simply shouldn’t have got this far down the line.”
After ruling out venues of a certain distance away to ensure the club retains its locality, Mr Raven added: “This club has a future. We just need to be more pro-active about getting members on board now that we aren’t based at Caerphilly Leisure Centre.
“Inline hockey is a struggling sport in South Wales, and we’re one of the last clubs to have a junior section. We want to keep going and give the sport a point to build from in the future.
“We’re important to the region, and it would be disastrous if we disappear off the map.”
A council spokesperson said: “Due to regulations regarding new sports hall floors, there is a new compliance issue regarding shock absorption properties and meeting ISO standard guidelines. Caerphilly Leisure Centre had no choice but to meet these new guidelines.
“Our Sport and Leisure team have been in regular contact with the Caerphilly Comets, and as well as offering alternative accommodation for the club at Sue Noake Leisure Centre in Ystrad Mynach, the team have also offered to support the club with development opportunities to help with the club’s sustainability into the future”.
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