PLANS for a new rugby league centre of excellence are moving forward thanks to a £1.2m project at Victoria Park, Warrington.
As one of the host towns for the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC2021) in England, Warrington has benefitted from a major injection of funding from the RLWC2021 “CreatedBy” legacy fund, receiving £600,000 towards a new 3G pitch facility at Victoria Park.
The council worked in partnership with Wolves Foundation to secure the funding, with the remainder of the project being funded with capital investment from the council.
This exciting project aims to increase participation in rugby league and offers a major boost to local rugby league players of all ages and abilities. The redeveloped site will be a key venue for the England Talent Programme, and will help the council and Wolves Foundation to support local community rugby league clubs and local schools. It will give local players the opportunity to use the high-quality facilities both for training and competitive match play, regardless of age, ability or gender. This includes the intention to make the new facility the home of Women and Girls’ Rugby League in the borough.
Building on the successful use of Victoria Park in recent years for hosting the ‘RFL schools 9s’ competitions, it is hoped this competition will continue to be staged at the new venue, along with local high school competitions. Coach and parent education courses will also run from the site with the aim of ensuring several new coaches per year are developed for each year group.
It will also be used as an additional training base for RLWC2021 visiting teams as well as being the venue for the majority of matches in the international PDRL (Physical Disability Rugby League) international showcase competition which Warrington will also be hosting alongside the main world cup event.
Cabinet Member for Leisure and Community Cllr Tony Higgins said: “We are committed to investing in grassroots sport and the Warrington Playing Pitch Strategy provides the framework to ensure that our playing pitches meet the needs of local people, now and in the future.
“This project supports this work, along with our ambitions, under the Central 6 masterplan, to provide excellent playing pitches and facilities within the central wards of our borough.
“Hosting next year’s RLWC gives us a fantastic opportunity to bring real benefits to our communities by improving facilities and inspiring the next generation of rugby league players. The start of work on this fantastic project is great news for our borough. We are a famous rugby league town and this new pitch is an important part of our ambitions to create a centre of excellence in Warrington.”
Neil Kelly, Foundation Director, Wolves Foundation said: “The award for RLWC2021 funding and support from the council to make this happen, is on the back of hard work and commitment from The Foundation and its community clubs. Rugby League provides values that can support transforming communities and its residents. This facility will become a home not just for participation but inspiration.”
Jon Dutton, Chief Executive, RLWC2021, said: “The CreatedBy RLWC2021 Capital Grants Programme is focused on ensuring the next generation of rugby league players have the best possible facilities and barriers to participate are removed. We are delighted to award this grant and look forward to seeing the results of this investment that aims to deliver real change in the local community.”
For more information about Warrington’s part in the RLWC2021 tournament, visit warrington.gov.uk/rlwc2021
Left to right: Andy Barry, Warrington Borough Council, Jon Dutton, RLWC2021, Cllr Tony Higgins, Warrington Borough Council, Neil Kelly, Wolves Foundation, Steve Broomhead, Chief Executive, Warrington Borough Council, and Paul Stratford, Triple S Sports & Rylands