Action Indoor Sports
Itchy loves a good kick about or game of cricket with mates, but there are gadzillions of drawbacks to playing outside. Firstly, you have the Brizzle drizzle to contend with. Then sod's law dictates that your footie will land in the back garden of the neighbour with the grizzliest, snarliest dog - venture into his territory and you'll lose three balls instead of just one. Your Pedigree Chum will also have deposited steaming piles of digested Winalot all over nearby parks and fields, in spots especially chosen for their proximity to your foot. Beware too of booting empty blue WKD bottles, discarded waterlogged Indian takeaway boxes, and in the case of Itchy's unluckiest matey, soiled nappies. Or simply turn to the gigantic welcoming bosom of Action Indoor Sports: this gargantuan indoor arena has four pitches for soccer, netball and cricket, one sandball courts, four badminton courts, a workout gym, a bowls green, and most merciful of all, a roof. Action Indoor Sports is exclusively designed for small-sided versions of mainstream ball sports, all played in netted 'Action Cells', which act like hyper-snug Speedos to stop your balls escaping. The pace is fast and frantic; players are allowed to use all surfaces of the court. At the same time though, you don't have to be superhero fit to have a bash; regular substitutions, or 'tagging in', of team members can be part of the nature of the games, so you can play in short, sharp bursts if that helps reduce the risk of your lardy self dropping dead in your plimsolls. Play with mates to see who buys the bevvies after (AFTER - playing volleyball is much harder when you feel like you're on a dinghy in an electrical storm). Carlsberg is £2 a pint in the TV-screen-packed bar, and pizza and a Poretti beer £6 in the Italian restaurant. Add an element of competition by getting involved in a league; mixed teams, experts and novices alike (but no dogs) are all welcome, as the centre operates a grading system allowing teams of different abilities to be pitched against each other. If you'd rather sit back and watch the pros, major national and international events like the Indoor Cricket World Cup often touch down, while for televised games the place has more plasma than the Ghostbusters. Itchy gives Action Indoor particular thumbs up for its community spirit; despite being the size of a small planet, the arena does a lot to develop local sports and fitness incentives at grassroots level. They keep prices decently low so that you can afford to have fun losing your spare tyre without having to start sleeping in your car. On the flipside, if you want to splash out a bit, they have a private events room and catering team can sort out parties from 12 to 300 people at a good rate too - seriously, for a work do or a big birthday, it's a frick-load of fun. Although you know there's a high chance it will all descend into a de-bagging mission and you'll end up with your tracksuit bottoms pulled around your ankles. But hey - that's the craic.
Action Indoor Soccer league competitions last 10 weeks. There are 6 teams per league, playing between Mon-Fri, 7pm-11pm.
Admission to the arena is free; games last 40 minutes and cost £5 per person per game; gym sessions are £5 per person too.
Getting there: From central Bristol take the A4 (Temple Gate) southbound. At Bath Bridge roundabout take the first exit onto Bath Road (A4). At traffic signals keep right onto Wells Road (A37). Turn right at traffic lights onto Airport Road (A4174) signposted Ring Road. At next traffic lights turn left onto Bamfield Road. Go straight ahead at mini roundabout to Hawkfield Business Park.
The following bus routes serve the centre: 24, 25 and 51. For further details contact Travel South West on 0870 608 2608.
Car parking: 300 spaces for centre users.