University of Worcester bids to become inclusive sport centre

Worcester University's Vice Chancellor Professor David Green (centre).
Worcester University's Vice Chancellor Professor David Green (centre) wants major international disability tournaments to come to the City.

The University of Worcester hopes to make opportunities for disabled athletes of all abilities "part of everyday life" as an international centre for inclusive sport.

The plan will lead to improved facilities for a number of sports including blind cricket and football.

And the university will also be able to offer more specialist coaching.

"This really is sport for all, we want to spread the message," said vice-chancellor Professor David Green.

It is hoped that at least £3m can be raised for the inclusive cricket centre to be operational by 2017, and Professor Green hopes it will be a springboard for bringing international sporting prestige to the city.

"We've already got the European Wheelchair Basketball Championship at the Arena and we can see the World Championships coming in due course, and wouldn't it be great of Worcester could host the Blind Cricket World Cup?"

University of Worcester's inclusive pedigree
The university was the first to offer a dedicated degree programme in disability sports coaching and already boasts the one of the best indoor inclusive facilities in the UK - the University Arena - home to the Worcester Wolves basketball team, British Wheelchair basketball and venue for this year's European Wheelchair Championship.
The scheme would see the Arena and other nearby buildings expanded, with an indoor cricket centre open in two years.
It is hoped the inclusive sport centre will eventually be a training base for Paralympic athletes, as well as offering specialist education and facilities for local schoolchildren.

"We want to include many more people in sport, in education and coaching to make inclusion part of everyday life," he told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

The university hopes to encourage more girls and women to play sport as part of their inclusive approach.

"We've still got a big job to do to help people access sporting opportunities," said Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of the Youth Sport Trust.

"What the Paralympics did, both for women and for people with disability, was show people what's possible.

"The enthusiasm's good but sometimes the opportunities are not there and teachers and coaches haven't got the right training to include everybody."

With the university's existing expertise in disability sport, Baroness Campbell is confident the plan to develop an international centre will happen.

"I don't see any reason, with the facility, the accommodation, the student training and quality of people here, that they can't make that dream come true," she said.