COACHES at a squash club fear that the legacy of the 2012 Olympics is being betrayed by a plan to close courts and open a nursery.
Malcolm Peters and his wife Mo have coached children to play squash at Havant Rugby Club for years. But plans to turn the courts, in Hooks Lane, Bedhampton, into a crèche have been approved by Havant Borough Council, which could spell the end for Havant Junior Squash Club.
This is the last non elitist facility for playing squash in the boroughMalcolm Peters
The rugby club says the number of people using the courts has reduced over the years while the need for nursery places has increased.
But Mr and Mrs Peters are concerned that children – many from deprived backgrounds in Leigh Park – will have nowhere to go when the squash courts close.
Malcolm said: ‘This is not about me. This is about losing yet more facilities.
‘They called us coaches together after the 2012 Olympics and they wanted it to inspire a generation.
‘They said we need more facilities and yet they are taking more away. It’s just a shame.
‘The kids will not have a facility and it will not be replaced.’
He added: ‘It will mean the end of Havant teams in the county leagues, Hampshire games, Havant tournaments, and I think the eventual finish to squash in our area.
‘This is the last non-elitist facility for playing squash in the borough.’
The refurbishment work will start in the autumn and Mr Peters has been told he will need to find a new home by the end of September.
Alan Newton, secretary of Havant Rugby Club, said: ‘We are very supportive of providing sporting opportunities to the local community and work hard to develop links with a wide range of sporting groups.
‘As part of a strategic review, and thorough consultation with the squash club, we have decided to redevelop our facilities to provide more space within the club house whilst providing some much needed extra nursery facilities for the local community.
‘Ultimately, this will mean the redevelopment of the squash courts, and we recognise that this will reduce the access to squash facilities in the area, but we have noted that the utilisation of the courts has been reducing for a number of years.
‘We, and the community, will be better served with the redeveloped courts, along with a number of external resources, such as an all-weather training facility, that will in the long term provide the local community with a multi-sport facility for the benefit of all.’