Trampolining in safety

I wonder if you would be good enough to pass on my concerns to your readers. I am a British Gymnastics Association (BGA) qualified gymnastics and trampolining coach, training both adults and children in Algarve schools and sporting centres.

This is not meant to be an advert for the trampolines I sell, but a genuine concern regarding the inferior products suddenly being marketed by people with no experience in this field.

I was horrified this week to see displayed, in a local shopping centre, products manufactured in Taiwan. I have never seen such dangerous trampolines in all my years! Firstly, the legs are bolted together with small nuts and bolts, this is a system that, in my opinion, cannot withstand the huge forces created when bouncing on trampolines long term. Have these people thought about the consequences to the child happily playing, when the nut and bolt works loose and the leg comes through the bed of the trampoline? The so called safety cages are velcroed together, which are only safe if the child falls on the side with the hooks on, if they fall on the smooth side it will not hold. How many children are going to safely seal up this velcro each time they get on? The padding is criminally thin and would offer little or no protection in the event of a fall.

Finally, the gauge of the steel, I would be very interested to learn. The people selling them, however, did not know!

I, as much as anyone, appreciate it is very hard to earn a living here in Portugal. However, how can these people sleep at night knowing that they are offering such inferior and, in my opinion, dangerous products? Knowing full well that mainly children will be using them.

In the UK, trampolining has become very popular, however, there are over 11,000 reported accidents each year and this figure is increasing alarmingly quickly. Trampolining is a fabulous sport, superb exercise and great fun. But, like any potentially dangerous sport, basic rules should be adhered to. Here are a few:

• Never allow children (or adults) to sit or crawl under a trampoline.

• Never, ever allow more than one person on the trampoline at any one time (this is when most accidents occur).

• Always ensure there is a two metre clear area, preferably grassed, around the trampoline.

These people, offering these inferior products, are also giving out false and dangerous information, saying the bigger the trampoline the more people you can fit on. Categorically untrue. A circular trampoline will, by the laws of physics, jump you back to the centre of the trampoline; if there are two, three, or however many on board, the circular trampoline will bounce them back to the same area.

I offer 19 models of trampolines imported from the UK that I am very proud of. I offer full professional coaching facilities and trampolines that are actually cheaper than these inferior Taiwanese models.

Let your children have fun and keep fit, but please buy wisely! I am only too happy to offer any information about products or coaching. You can call me on 917 472 278. Glenys King,

BGA coach