Tallaght Sports Complex working hard to make sure people feel welcome

By Aideen O'Flaherty

WHEN sports facilities had to shut as the pandemic began emerging in Ireland last March, what followed was a period of intense uncertainty and concern. 

However, as centres have been opening back up, one local sports centre said their reopening has been a roaring success.

Five weeks in advance of the reopening of the Tallaght Sports Complex in Balrothery on July 6, staff members Glenda Murphy-Smullen, Claire Kelly and Paraic Kenny set up a staff Covid committee with members from each department of the complex to prepare for the reopening.

Tallaght Sports Complex 07 compressor

They set out the implementation of new procedures, including new sanitation and social distancing measures which adhere to government guidelines, and this has meant that the centre can return to some form of normality, with swimming lessons, aqua aerobics and gym usage being back on offer.

“We’ve changed a lot of our procedures,” explained duty manager Glenda Murphy-Smullen. “Now we have a ‘ring and book’ system.

"People can’t just walk in anymore, they have to phone in advance.

“And when they get here, they fill out a Covid form to say that they don’t have any symptoms of coronavirus.

“We know that people were nervous about coming back, but we’ve got limited numbers using the pool and the gym at any one time, and we got great feedback from them.”

Gym users get sanitiser and a towel when they enter, and are told to sanitise the equipment both before and after they use it, and a staff member is in the gym to ensure these instructions are adhered to, while the swimming pools lanes have been marked so there is enough distance between swimmers.

“Everyone’s been really good about the new procedures, and it’s been great to see everyone back here again,” added Ms Murphy-Smullen.

“We’ve really worked hard to make sure people feel welcome – it's about giving people the confidence to come back and to know that it’s safe here.

“Now that we’re into our second week, everybody knows the drill and it’s running like clockwork.

“It’s such an easy system. It’s well organised and it’s going well.”

Swimming clubs from around the county have also started training in the pool in the Tallaght Sports Complex, as even though swimming lessons are currently being held, the pool is quieter than usual as a result of the schools being shut, and some other pools have yet to reopen.

Teams from Terenure Swimming Club and the Glenalbyn Swimming Club in Stillorgan now use the pool for training, as their local swimming pools have not reopened.

Looking ahead, the sports complex is hoping to reopen its wellness centre in the coming days and they intend to update their procedures if and when the government makes changes to the current protocol around containing the pandemic.

As for how it felt to reopen the sports centre after many months of uncertainty, Ms Murphy-Smullen said: “We were worried about reopening, because we’re community-based so we keep our prices low.

“We were worried that, if the numbers were too low, it wouldn’t be feasible to reopen, but we’ve had so much success with the swimming lessons and the swim teams training here. It’s great to be back.”

The complex can be contacted by phone on 01 451 5105, or via their website at www.tallaghtsportscomplex.com.

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