Terry Monnington, Director of Physical Education and Sport, talks about the latest developments in Sport at Warwick.
The late 1990s saw significant new developments take place to the benefit of sport at the University. The Bear Rock Indoor Climbing Centre opened, two Floodlit sand based artificial pitches were completed at Westwood, the nine tennis courts on that site were upgraded and all grass based outdoor sport moved to the new 55 acre Cryfield site with its superb new Sports Pavilion.
However, as we moved into the new millennium, the Department of Physical Education and Sport began to plan for the next phase of sport facility. This would enable Warwick to match and possibly exceed the overall level of provision at the majority of British universities.
The Department's Strategy for Sport identified certain weaknesses in our existing indoor facility provision, namely:
- Excessive pressure on one main sports hall for casual usage and club bookings, exacerbated by the planned closure of the Westwood Physical Education Centre in summer 2003
- The outdated and limited nature of current health, fitness and weight training facilities
The proposed plans were both bold and futuristic:
- a new 4-court sports hall to be added to the Sports Centre on land adjacent to Tocil residences
- a new Health and Fitness suite to be constructed above the existing squash courts, incorporating a new studio to complement the present Activity Room
- the development of a third all-weather floodlit pitch adjacent to the Athletics Track at Westwood utilising the most up to date surface technology
- refurbishment of the Weight Training Room
provision of artificial grass tennis courts
The Tarkett Pitch at Westwood was the first of these plans to reach fruition and opened in October 2002. This pitch provides an artificial grass playing surface, that enables studded footwear to be worn and contact sports, such as soccer and rugby, to be played. It now caters for 24 hours of KPMG soccer per week and some 25 hours of club practices. The surface has attracted the attention of the Premier League Managers Association, been used by several visiting league clubs, and extensively by Coventry City. The upgrading of the three Rootes Hall tennis courts to artificial grass soon followed this project.
The new Sports Hall is due for completion in June of this year and will provide a Desso sprung linoleum flooring system suitable for all indoor sports. It will also incorporate much needed indoor cricket nets.
The Health and Fitness suite will open in July, providing 65 pieces of aerobic training equipment, 30 resistance-training stations and be fitted with an Entertainment Management System to provide audio and TV for users. It will be staffed by a Fitness Development Officer and supported by two Fitness Development Assistants. They will provide inductions, training programme provision, fitness testing and personal training. Fitness classes such as Spinning and Crewing will be incorporated into the Department's Sport Course Programme and additional exercise to music classes are envisaged in the new adjacent studio.
These new staff will also oversee the Performance Weights Room and Conditioning Room. The former was re-opened in October 2002 having had air conditioning installed and been re-equipped with both fixed and plate loading machines, free weights and a power lifting platform. The latter was added in the spring term to complement the main room, offering extra free weights, core stability and abdominal workout equipment.
In the main, these major new developments have been fully funded by the University, the exception being the development of the Health and Fitness Suite. Access to the Health and Fitness suite will involve payment of a fee by both students and staff. These charges were agreed with the Sports Federation and Sports Committee, after extensive consultation, as an appropriate means of funding a new specialist facility. Such charges will, however, be considerably below the norm for an equivalent 'commercial' gym. The charges will be as follows:
Annual Membership - £80
Term Membership - £30
Single visit - £1.50
Annual Membership - £115
Monthly Membership - £10
Single visit - £2.50
Clerical, manual and technical staff will be able to utilise a percentage of their Warwick Learning Account (WLA) allowance to contribute to membership fees, if they so desire.
The above annual memberships will also give access to the Performance Weights Room. A separate, individual membership of £30 per annum will continue to be available for this facility, which clerical, manual and technical staff will be able to set against their WLA.
So, all in all, an exciting few months for Warwick Sport as opportunities to participate continue to improve for both students and staff. But don't forget that members of the immediate family of students and staff can benefit too! For the modest charge of £36 per person, per year they can enjoy the same access rights as us all.
For further information contact Heather Battersby in the Sports Centre, ext 24993.
And what of the future?
An application for a further Lottery Fund award was submitted in March 2003 to support major work on the athletics track at Westwood, including replacement of the track surface. Plans are also well advanced to refurbish and enlarge the reception area of the Sports Centre and conversion of the existing fitness rooms into additional changing accommodation.
Medium term planning, involving exploratory talks with partners interested in the development of a 50 metre swimming pool and an indoor tennis centre at the University, have already taken place.