Date of release: Thursday, March 30, 2017

VarsityA £1.7 million investment in sports began to pay off as the University of Greenwich unveiled its state-of-the-art sports pitches in a ceremony at its Avery Hill Campus on Wednesday (29 March).

The floodlit, all-weather, 3G pitches are the new home for the university's various sports teams – including rugby, football, hockey, American football and lacrosse – and will host nearly 70 competitive matches and many more recreational games in the coming year.

The launch of the new pitches saw students compete in the university's biggest sporting event of the year, its annual 'Varsity' competition. Students from Team Greenwich and Team Medway battled it out across nine games in various competitions, including netball, men's and women's basketball, badminton and football.

Team Greenwich achieved overall victory on the day – and campus bragging rights for the next 12 months.

The launch event was attended by university staff, students, friends and alumni, as well as by local schools and colleges, representatives from the community and key university partners including Northern Trust, Charlton Athletic FC, Charlton Athletic Community Trust and Blackheath Rugby Club.

Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor, said that the university is committed to continuous, long-term investment in sports, with the new pitches marking just the start of its sports strategy. "Sport is an important part of what we are about as a university, and is a fundamental part of our tradition and history," he said.

"It not only brings us together as a university, but sees us working very closely with our local community. Playing sport helps more students to be fully engaged with the life of the university, and has tremendous benefits in terms of physical and mental well-being, team working, leadership and other skills valued highly by employers. This is an exciting new era for sports at Greenwich."

Louis Hale, the Students' Union Vice-President for Sports and Activities, added: "Our mission is to empower students to have life-changing experiences, and today we are taking a massive step towards fulfilling that goal.

"These new pitches have already brought fresh opportunities, and we are seeing an increase in student sports participation across the board. Our sports facilities will be playing a big part in the university's future, benefitting students for generations to come. After many years of hard work, I'm thrilled that our vision has become a reality."

Also attending the launch were Cllr Peter Brooks, Deputy Mayor, Royal Borough of Greenwich; university alumni Cllr Denise Hyland, Leader of Royal Borough of Greenwich, and Jason Turner, Chair of the university's Strategic Sports Board; and Stuart Storey, sports commentator and former Olympic hurdler.

Greenwich graduate and local resident Stephen Howlett, the university's Pro Chancellor, performed the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the launch of the sports pitches.

The new pitches will be in use for seven days a week and will serve 21 sports teams across the university. The pitches will help clubs increase their membership levels and enable students to train at more convenient times, thereby boosting team performance.

The university's investment in sport and recreation facilities includes the building of the gym in The Dome at Avery Hill, the refurbishment of the gym at Medway and the planning of a new gym within the Dreadnought development.

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Picture: From left: Kani Hinshelwood, Chairlady of the Badminton Club; Stephen Howlett; Louis Hale; and Professor David Maguire.