PROFESSIONAL footballers Wes Morgan and Lee Hughes took time out to kick off the official launch of Bulwell Academy’s new start-of-the-art sports zone.
Building work started on the £23 million school three years ago.
Its creation is the amalgamation of the former River Leen and Henry Mellish Comprehensives in the town and is aimed at lifting educational attainment.
Now the last piece of the jigsaw has been unveiled — a flagship sports zone that has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and incorporates three large, all-weather football pitches, four tennis/netball courts, two basketball courts and a multiple-use games area.
It will also be open to the community and local sports clubs.
Nottingham Forest defender Morgan and Notts County striker Hughes were guests of honour to cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the site.
They chatted with pupils and staff for more than an hour and enjoyed an impromptu kickabout on the new football pitch, which creates a striking impression at the front of the imposing academy building, off Hucknall Lane.
Alison Bingham, director of business and enterprise at the academy, said: “This is the final phase of the development at the school and the workmen have all finally left.
“The site, which was previously home of the River Leen School, never had this sort of quality equipment available to the children, and there was nothing like this in the area.
“It is brilliant and being able to open it out to the community is very exciting.
“For two years, we have made do and mended. But we now have our own top-class facilities, and we are exceptionally grateful.”
The new pitches at the academy site are laid with a ‘Tiger Turf’ artificial surface.
As well as providing a top-of-the-range sports area for pupils, the pitches are open to use by community groups, local football clubs and netball teams.
Added Alison: “What’s great is that when you drive into school in the morning before lessons, there’s a group of boys having a kickabout. They have taken it as their own already.
“It spans every possible use for every possible group and we are thrilled with it.
“The academy is building a great reputation for sports but now we have the facilities to expand that.”
n OUR PHOTO shows Lee Hughes and Wes Morgan cutting the ceremonial ribbon to open the academy’s new sports zone. They are cheered on by pupils — DISPIC NHUD11-2467-1.