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‘It’s good to see things come down the M1’ – South Lake Leisure Centre ‘world class’

"...sometimes Belfast thinks it has some sort of God-given right to host everything there."

South Lake Leisure Centre, in Craigavon, is viewed as a world-class facility by Northern Ireland Volleyball, so much so that they have entered into a partnership agreement with the ABC Council to make it their home for the next five years.

The matter was mentioned at Monday night’s (April 15) Leisure & Community Services Committee meeting of the local authority.

The agenda item read: “This agreement is for South Lake Leisure Centre to be the exclusive home of indoor volleyball international matches and senior competitions.

“Volleyball in ABC Council is an already well-established sport, with local team Aztecs and SLLC hosting the junior school finals. Officers wish to develop the sport, including the international team.

“The partnership agreement commenced in March 2024 and will last for a period of five years, which includes a minimum of eight days per year of international or senior club finals.

“The partnership will also involve storage of a specialised GerFlor court in South Lake Leisure Centre, which Northern Ireland Volleyball will procure.

“Council and Volleyball NI will work together to create a holistic package for training camps, including strength and conditioning, data analysis on performance and nutritional advice.”

Alderman Mark Baxter (DUP, Lagan River DEA) welcomed the partnership agreement: “It’s good to see that things can come down the M1 and can come out of Belfast, which is great to see because sometimes Belfast thinks it has some sort of God-given right to host everything there.

“So it’s great to see something, particularly in our borough, of a national level like this. And I think it is testament to the facility that we have. We do get some negative press, but any time I’m in that leisure centre, it’s heaving with people.

“I think in volleyball they have recognised what a world-class facility it is. It’s probably the best leisure centre in Northern Ireland, and that just proves it.

“It’s a testament to the staff and everything that went on down there to put that facility there. So it’s just really to put on record our thanks to the team for bringing this, because this is certainly a good news story.”

Committee chair, Councillor Ian Wilson (DUP, Banbridge DEA) concurred with his party colleague: “I have to agree, it’s definitely a good news story. We should be praising our staff for all the hard work they put in.”

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