Earlier this week the Government of Jersey announced that clubs based at the centre would be contacted about finding new homes, as part of a consultation by UK-based firm KKP, who will be looking into the Island’s future sports-facility provision.
Deputy Hugh Raymond, who holds political responsibility for sport, has revealed that the Fort is likely to be used more as an entertainment and culture site in the future – but clubs have urged officials to use any financial investment to make it a world-class sporting facility.
Julia Falle, head coach of Regent Gymnastics Club, says she would be disappointed if they were forced to leave the venue, where they have been based since 1981.
‘The Fort has been the epicentre for Island sport for so many years and there are so many clubs up there that share the facility,’ she said.
‘Parents will drop their kids off to gymnastics classes and go and use the gym in the meantime. It is a multi-purpose facility and we don’t want to lose that.
‘While it may not be fit for purpose and needs a lot of maintenance work, we don’t want to leave the Fort permanently.’
Regent gymnasts currently operate out of the Gloucester Hall, having recently made way for the Island’s Covid vaccination centre in the Queen’s Hall.
Falle added: ‘The government should have invested in Fort Regent years ago. They should put their money into making it a modern and up-to-date sports facility.’
‘If we move then we need somewhere permanent which has enough space for all our equipment. We have classes on all day and so we cannot have a shared space or somewhere temporary.
‘I would hate to see everyone move out of the Fort and then the government do nothing with it for years, just like the swimming pool.’
Roy MacDonald, the head of Jersey Kenpo Karate, which has been based at the Fort for over 35 years, has also called for the government to maintain existing sporting ties.
‘We have held European and world championship events at the Fort, we need a hub to host large scale events like this,’ he said. ‘Every time athletes have come over they always commended the family atmosphere between all the clubs at the Fort.
‘We have numerous martial arts disciplines that operate at the Fort and there are not many places in the world that share the same facility like that.’
MacDonald does not believe there will be another suitable home for them.
‘If we had to relocate and go back to using school and parish halls then it would be like taking a step back 30 years.’
He added: ‘We would be fine with moving temporarily while they built the Fort up again and then let us back in. Another option could be to build another sports complex elsewhere, but I cannot see the government doing that.’