Royal National College's new centre to put Hereford city on sporting map

Herefordshire residents can tour the new sports facilities at an open weekend this Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

Herefordshire residents can tour the new sports facilities at an open weekend this Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

First published in Sport

A MULTI-MILLION pound sport and health centre will be opening in Hereford next Monday (April 6).

Based at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), thePoint4 boasts the only bespoke indoor Futsal (five-a-side-football) pitch in the UK.

Two gyms, a fitness pool with a resistance swimming facility, two spa rooms with a sauna, jacuzzi and steam room are also in the £14m facility.

A sports hall is housed in the three-storey Venns Lane development which includes areas for massage and aromatherapy, a bistro and conference facilities.

There is also an outdoor Futsal (five-a-side) pitch.

Halo Leisure has joined forces with RNC to manage the centre which is seeking membership from the general public.

Existing Halo membership is not valid at thePoint4 which is being run as a private club. All profits will be ploughed back into the college, a registered charity.

Chris Combe, who has been with Halo Leisure for seven years, is the new manager of the centre. The 36-year-old started work in 1991 at Hereford Leisure Centre and was the assistant manager for five years.

Combe has managed Bridge Street Sports Centre and Bromyard Leisure Centre.

For a short time, Combe also managed Leominster Leisure Centre.

The first official booking at thePoint4 is a three-day RNIB Soccer Sight programme for 30 children and their families.

England Blind Football, British Blind League, Partially Sighted Futsal Cup, England Futsal team and the Herefordshire FA will be using the facilities.

Tony Larkin is the head of events and conferences and will oversee the centre.

He is also the college’s Football Academy ambassador.

Larkin said: “We have the only bespoke indoor Futsal pitch in the UK. Research has gone into the acoustics and there’s no echo in terms of sound when we are playing on the pitch. The pitch is an international size. It is coloured blue on a white background and there’s no glare from the overhead lighting.”

RNC is hoping to become the UK’s Centre of Excellence for Disability Sport.

“There are 30,000 people registered disabled in Herefordshire,” said Larkin.

“The gym equipment is IFI fitness inclusive equipment which has special markings to help those people with visual impairments.

“The equipment is designed so that it can be used and adapted by people in wheelchairs.”

RNC has gained a national and international reputation for outstanding achievement in blind sports, including football and athletics.

It will be hosting the World Blind Football Championships in August 2010.

RNC is home to the GB Blind football team managed by Larkin.

The centre will be given an official opening on June 24.

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