EXCLUSIVE: Sports hub to improve the health of Sikhs soars to finishing stage
THE dream of building an unique community centre and sports hub to improve the health of Sikhs in Slough has become a reality - more than 35 years after the idea was born.
As finishing touches were being added to The Falcon Sports And Sikh Community Centre, in Stoke Poges Lane, The Observer was given a sneak peak at one of the countries 'best sports facilities built by a religious organisation'.
The £3.5m project, run by the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Wexham, is set to open its doors to the whole community at the end of the month.
Jaswant Gidda, an original member of the gurdwara's executive committee spearheading the project, said: "When we built the gurdwara in Slough in 1976, we thought we have to do something for our youngsters. Our dream is being fulfilled. We are praying every child will enjoy it and it will benefit the local area."
Gurpal Nijhar, centre manager added: "My vision is for it to be a centre of excellence offering accessible and affordable sports activities to the community, whilst promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle."
After years of searching for the perfect site, the gurdwara committee was granted planning permission to build on the Green Belt land, which is split between the jurisdiction of Slough Borough Council and South Bucks District Council, in 2008.
The centre, which is open to residents of all backgrounds and religions, will offer activities for all ages, including football, hockey, cricket, tennis and basketball as well as classes such as yoga.
Other features include a crèche for three to six-year-olds, outside play area, meeting room, an outdoor family area with a fountain as a focal point, a footpath around the grounds ideal for walks and a kitchen so the centre can be used to host birthday parties for children and other functions.
Mr Gidda added: "Our purpose is to keep our new generation out of trouble and give them somewhere to go, and to help improve the health of all ages by giving them somewhere they can go for a walk and play sports and feel comfortable. This project should cater for six-month-old babies to 100-year-olds."
The centre is named The Falcon Sports And Sikh Community Centre in honour of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh guru, who had many titles bestowed upon him including 'chittay baaja wala', the keeper of the white falcon.