AKA Combat Centre opens at The Dolphin with support from Sports England

The new martial arts centre opens to broaden the health and wellbeing services on offer in Poole

A new martial arts centre has opened in The Dolphin, where the community can positively engage in improving their physical and mental well-being.

AKA Combat founders, Steve Goodhand and Eva Papadopoulou, are on track to raise £5,000 of funding to expand the facilities’ offering, which at present includes martial arts and physical training sessions. The new centre is backed by Sports England, with a donation of £2,500 pledged to further enhance the facilities at AKA Combat. Steve and the team are currently crowdfunding to raise the additional budget required.

Steve said: “We offer high-quality martial arts training and a comprehensive fitness space that can be enjoyed and utilised by anyone in our community. I have first-hand experience of how important physical activity is for a person’s wellbeing and enjoy working with people of all ages and backgrounds to better their lives through sport. We are hopeful that we can engage young people in Poole specifically, offering them a positive outlet and space where they can feel included and supported.

“With the funding via Crowdfunder and Sports England we will be able to continue to improve lives in the community. We will be looking to purchase additional high-quality training equipment, expand the training we are able to offer, and refine the training environment itself.”

With over 25 years of experience in martial arts teaching across the South, Steve believes he makes a real difference to the community by delivering his wealth of knowledge in the heart of Poole. Encouraging young people into kickboxing and similar combat sports is noted to benefit overall wellbeing, offering an opportunity to develop their self-confidence and discipline. 

Gareth Sherwood, CEO of YMCA Bournemouth, advised AKA Combat as the business opened and commented: “The value of accessible, affordable community fitness spaces cannot be overstated. For young people especially, having an outlet and an inclusive space where they can feel comfortable and develop skills is really important. Physical training can work as a method for channelling emotions, and this is key to minimising the impact of antisocial behaviour in the community.”

Demonstrating its commitment to the area, AKA Combat is currently working with Separated Children Seeking Asylum in Bournemouth, to offer free access to the training and equipment for an individual they are supporting in the area. The business intends to continue providing scholarships and subsidies to those in the community who need it most.

John Grinnell, Centre Manager of The Dolphin, said: “The community sits at the heart of our vision of The Dolphin. AKA Combat is exactly the kind of people-focused, enriching organisation we want to be welcoming to Poole. Steve and Eva have done a fantastic job of bringing their knowledge and experience into The Dolphin, and we are sure AKA Combat will prove to be a popular and positive presence in Poole.”

For more information visit dolphinshoppingcentre.co.uk or follow The Dolphin on Facebook and Instagram @thedolphinpoole.