A local Dodgeball Centre already boasting British champions is on course to hit more targets from its unique home.
The only dedicated centre for the sport in the world, and the home of Hartlepool Mavericks, was opened in April and the sprung on-court flooring was funded by the PFC Trust.
Both the main hall and the smaller hall used for younger players, named the Dodgytotts, have been created with purely Dodgeball in mind.
That is unlike anywhere else in the UK, where courts have to be marked out using tape because they are generally used for netball, basketball, football or racket sports.
The Hartlepool centre, on Winterbottom Avenue, has 150 children attend sessions on a weekly basis and more than 20 adults. Sessions to improve the fitness of those with learning and physical disabilities have started this month.
Head coaches Lucie Stott and Stephanie Robson take players and teams all over the country to compete, with the Mavericks the only club of its kind in the North-East until the duo recently created sister club Billingham Bulls.
“I come from a fitness background and we launched dodgeball here to tackle child obesity in the town,” said Lucie.
“When me and Steph spent thousands to become qualified to instruct sessions like Boxercise, Zumba, circuit training … all we heard was the kids repeatedly asking to play dodgeball because we used to play it at the end of every session. We started from there.
“Now we have this centre where they not only improve fitness levels but children vulnerable to injuries during growth spells are supported on impact through the sprung floor the PFC Trust funded and we have had put down.”
Lucie, a qualified physiotherapist, also has a physio suite on the top floor of the building where there is a “Dodgycaff” for parents or visitors to watch the action on a big screen and have a coffee.
The five-year-old Mavericks, who used to play out of Belle Vue until the new centre opened in April, are the British champions at Under-11s and Under-13s. They were runners-up in the Under-9s and Under-16s.
This will be the first season when there will be a grassroots progression into the men’s league to compete against other adult teams in the National League held at St George’s Park each month.
Stephanie, a primary school teacher, is grateful to the PFC Trust for its support in helping the Dodgeball Centre secure such fantastic facilities to host the sport.
“There is not another centre specifically designed for dodgeball, not even St George’s Park which has to be taped out too,” said Stephanie.
“When we found this place, a warehouse that used to be part of the Iceland store next door, we went to Sport England for help and they demanded a proper sports hall floor. We knew it was going to cost thousands.
“Frances Connolly (the founder of the PFC Trust) heard about this and said she didn’t want that project to stop because she had seen the commitment.
“The Trust has helped provide the funding for the flooring. Without the funding, if we hadn’t had the support from there, then we might not have had the investment from other supporters.”
Dodgeball is a six-person team game. The aim is to eliminate the other team with a dodgeball over the duration of two 15-minute halves.
Frances Connolly said: “With British championship winning teams in the town, it was our pleasure and privilege to support the work of this amazing group.
"Not only do they encourage sporting prowess but engage young people who might otherwise not have participated in more mainstream sports so well done to the team and we look forward to watching the centre go from strength to strength."