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Inspiring The Extraordinary Through Sport

(2 February 2019)

Here at Durham, we strive to foster a culture that inspires the extraordinary. Such an ethos serves as a foundation on which traditions, achievements, and reputations are built – be these in research, education, or, in this case, sport.

The successful career of an aspiring athlete – the next Sophie Hosking or Jonathan Edwards, both Durham alumni – can take shape at university. But this takes natural talent, relentless dedication and access to coaching and support services.
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Having access to state-of-the-art facilities helps, too. Investing in sport means investing in our students – students who, like Hosking or Edwards, go on to become the best they can be. That’s why we’ve put £32 million into a new sports and wellbeing facility at Maiden Castle and it won’t be long until it’s ready for the next generation of potential sporting legends to grace the pitches, courts and mats.
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This will achieve several important goals. First, state-of-the-art facilities are more likely to attract outstanding student athletes, helping to ensure that our clubs and programmes remain at the forefront of British University Sport and sustain Durham’s position as Britain’s number 1 Team Sport University. Hannah Knowles, captain of the Women’s Cricket Club, hopes the new facilities – which include an indoor cricket hall – will allow “the club to maintain their reputation as one of the top cricketing universities in the country”.
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Second, centres like Maiden Castle help encourage more people to participate in sport. In doing so, new friendships are forged, wellbeing improved, and, sometimes, unique natural talent revealed. Knowles hopes the facilities “will allow greater flexibility regarding training times, reducing barriers to entry and subsequently increasing the number of people wanting to participate in a new sport whilst at university”.
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Third, such facilities provide opportunities for sport and physical activities to act as a great leveller – a social glue, even – bringing together people of all backgrounds, jobs, beliefs, and abilities, whether they are students, staff, or members of the local community.
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Even before the turf was cut last summer, the existing Maiden Castle centre was already popular with the locals. It hosted 15 community clubs and engaged more than 2,000 residents each week. The new facilities will be accessible to the local community on a daily basis. Announcing the investment last year, Owen Adams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience), said he hoped the new development would be “transformative for sport in the city and the surrounding area.”
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Finally, the new facilities will help to spotlight sports and clubs that don’t usually get the same
attention as, say, rugby or rowing. For Oli Platt, Club Captain of the Judo Team, the prospect of a new dojo at the site “is a huge step towards moving judo in the mainstream, here at the university”. “Durham’s judo squad has gone from strength to strength in the last few years”, he says. “I really hope that the new investment helps both us and the community improve the standard of judo and martial arts even further.”
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The new facility is expected to be ready in August 2019, at which point the existing Maiden Castle building will be refurbished and ready for use again in winter 2019.

Durham University Performance Programmes