A Derby five-a-side football center used by hundreds of players every week is to close down later this month. Powerleague, at Pride Leisure, on Pride Park, will continue to host matches up until Tuesday, April 19, when the venue will be taken over by a national paddle tennis operator.
The leisure facility, which is currently home to four indoor and three outdoor floodlit 5G pitches, will be transformed into the “largest paddle tennis center in the UK” over the coming months. The Derwent Parade property’s other tenants, a Sports Direct store, an Everlast gym, and the Oxygen Freejumping trampoline park, will be unaffected by the change of use of the football center and continue to operate as normal.
A customer update statement was posted on the Powerleague Derby Facebook page and website yesterday morning, Thursday, March 31, to confirm the news. It reads: “Following an approach by a National Paddle Tennis Operator to secure this facility, Powerleague will be handing the site over on 19th April 2022.
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“Derby will become the largest Paddle Tennis center in the UK and we believe this will be a great opportunity for the community. We would like to thank you for being a Powerleague customer. For any inquiries, please call the team on 01332 866410.”
The Powerleague center regularly hosted dozens of teams in its weekly five-a-side football leagues, and also hosted kids football coaching sessions. Members of the public could hire out pitches and the venue, located opposite Derby County’s Pride Park Stadium, also held kids birthday parties in its bar and function area.
Users of the football facility have been reacting to the news, including Oakwood resident Mario Petronzi who says there was “a lot of anger” about the decision among players when his team played a fixture there last night. He said: “This I feel is a huge loss to the city of a great indoor facility for amateur footballers, something not even Nottingham has.
“Playing tonight there was a lot of anger at why this is being allowed to happen at such short notice. Considering football is the most popular sport in the country why are we losing this facility?
“We have already contacted other outdoor facilities but unsurprisingly they are already fully booked. I also question where youth teams will train once this facility closes.”
Fellow player Ricky Chima described the upcoming closure as being a “disaster for the city”. He added: “The Powerleague pitches indoor and outdoor provide great facilities for young kids and adults to play football.
“This place is great for kids coaching and a community venue opposite the football stadium on Pride Park. To turn it into a tennis venue would be terrible and would mean a lack of interest compared to football.”
It is currently unclear as to whether the new operator will retain some of the football pitches as they are used by Derby County Community Trust for its community work. An email sent to community trust members yesterday seen by Derbyshire Live states that it is looking for alternative venues to ensure its provision can continue.
Part of the email reads: “We do not have a clear plan for sessions from April 19 as yet, but will be in contact as soon as we have an update. Your bookings will remain valid as we strive to provide an alternative location. We appreciate your patience while we aim to resolve this unexpected turn of events. “
Paddle tennis, which is a racket sport typically played in doubles on an enclosed court roughly 25% smaller than the size of a standard tennis court, was invented in Mexico in the late 1960s and is very popular in Spain.
The main differences are that the court has walls and the ball can be played off them, like in squash, and that solid, stringless racquets are used. The scoring system is the same as in standard tennis, but the balls used are a little less pressurized than normal tennis balls.
The sport’s popularity in southern Spain and Portugal exposed it to a large number of British visitors, which led to an increased popularity in the UK and the launch of the UK Padel Federation in 2011.