Tuesday, 15 April 2014
The University of Worcester Arena will celebrate its first anniversary with a fantastic day of sport this Friday, after firmly establishing itself as one of the region’s top sporting venues.
The likes of Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Lizzy Yarnold and Chris Froome have ensured that British sport – at elite level – has continued to ride the crest of the London 2012 wave in the twelve months since the University Arena opened its doors. However, grass roots sport has struggled, with funding cuts grabbing the headlines.
However, the University Arena, which is making a name for itself as the home of basketball and disability sport in this country, is helping to buck that trend in Worcester.
Since the keys were handed over to the University of Worcester following the completion of construction last April, the University Arena has provided new and exciting opportunities for young and old, amateur and professional, able-bodied and disabled athletes to get involved in a host of sports.
In total, the University Arena has welcomed over half a million people through its doors in those first twelve months, with community classes, student-led play schemes, coaching sessions and sports roadshows all ensuring that members of the local community have been able to make full use of the spectacular new venue.
The British Paralympic Association selected the University Arena to host the latest in their series of ‘Sports Fest’ events in November, giving local disabled children the opportunity to try a wide range of disability sports, and meet some of Great Britain’s Paralympic heroes from London 2012.
The facility, praised by International Paralympic Committee President, Sir Philip Craven, as being a ‘wonderful place’ created by ‘the right people with the right attitudes’, has also been successful in attracting top quality, elite-level sport to Worcester on a regular basis.
Over 70 major sporting events have been staged at the University Arena, among them national level badminton, netball, boccia, taekwondo and basketball and international netball and wheelchair basketball. The venue has also provided a fitting new home to the Worcester Wolves Basketball Club, with their challenge at the top of the British Basketball League being followed by record home crowds throughout the season.
Next summer, the facility will also play host to the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, and University Arena Manager, April White, says she is delighted with the part the venue has played in developing sport in Worcester during its first year.
“It has been a terrific year. One of the main aims of the University Arena was to increase sport participation from grass roots to elite level, and really make a difference to our local community; we are delighted that we have been able to do just that in our first year,” she explains.
“The fact that we have welcomed over half a million people shows the appetite for sport among the people of Worcester, and we are looking forward to developing further opportunities for the city and the local community in the coming months and years.”
Professor David Green, University of Worcester Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, adds: “The people of Worcester and the region have given great support to the construction of the University Arena and its work in its first year.
“The University is delighted that there have been more than 150,000 visits by children to the Arena in the first year. We aim to inspire the next generation into participating in sport and dance with all the lifelong health benefits and sheer enjoyment this brings.
“The University’s acclaimed Learning Through Sport programme has proved that participating in sport is just the cue some youngsters need to start participating fully in education and we are delighted that the Arena has brought a powerful new dimension to this valuable work.”
This Good Friday, the University Arena will play host to three women’s international wheelchair basketball fixtures; Great Britain v Germany (9am), Japan v Germany (1pm) – both of which are free for spectators – and Great Britain v Japan (4.30pm) which is free to those with a ticket for the Worcester Wolves v Glasgow Rocks game, which tips off at 7.30pm.
The match, Wolves’ last home game of the regular season, sees Paul James’ men go up against the side they beat to claim their first-ever major piece of silverware, the BBL Trophy, last month.
On Saturday, a further three wheelchair basketball internationals will take place, with Germany playing Japan at 9.30am and Japan taking on Great Britain at 2.30pm (both games free for spectators) before Great Britain face Germany in the showcase game at 7pm – tickets for that fixture are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.