YOUNG athletes will be able to hone their skills whatever the weather thanks to the opening of a hi-tech facility that will transform their learning.
With the support of Sport England, Carmel College has transformed a swamp-like playing field into a state of the art all-weather pitch so more than 1,200 children can exercise and develop their skills in bad weather.
The £1/2m investment is the first in sports facilities in more than three decades and allows Carmel College to compete on a level playing field in a host of sporting events.
The long-awaited facility will also boost curriculum development and allow greater engagement of students who are not keen sportsmen providing opportunities to exercise and improve their health and wellbeing.
Carmel Education Trust chief executive Maura Regan said: “I have longed for this occasion which is the realisation of a commitment I made when I became head all those years ago.
“Carmel College is about inspiring young people and providing the facilities needed to enrich this ethos. You start with a dream and you leave with memories. For once, our students will be able to return home without muddy socks and shoes.”
Miss Regan thanked all those involved in the project including Darlington Borough Council’s leisure service manager Mike Crawshaw, England, Darlington and Bishop Auckland hockey clubs, ADP Architects, construction consultants Thornton Firkin, engineers DTA and contractors Cleveland Land Services.
An audience of guests and students joined Fr Jeffrey Dodds in officially blessing the all weather facility. He said: “This has been created for the good of our young people and will help us appreciate their gifts and talents so they can realise their full potential.
“A great deal of planning and hard work has gone into this facility and its installation will bring great joy to a host of young people.”
The all weather pitch will mean, for the first time, that the college’s Year 10/11 hockey squad will no longer have to play all of its games away thereby losing the home-advantage enjoyed by the competition.
It also opens up an area of the school grounds that was unusable for much of the year offering a high quality facility to train and play.
The pitch, which can also be used for netball, tennis and athletics, brings the college in line with every other secondary school in the borough, will benefit students studying GCSE PE and be used by primary school children in the multi-academy trust.