University of Birmingham backs the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games bid
University of Birmingham is one of the UK’s leading sporting universities, where sport takes centre stage. Its reputation for providing a world-class training environment on its Edgbaston campus attracted Team Jamaica for its preparation camp ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the team is returning ahead of this year’s IAAF World Championships this summer.
University of Birmingham’s new Squash Courts and Hockey Pitches would become the competition venues for Hockey and Squash during Birmingham 2022, as part of the city’s bid proposals.
The University’s recently opened new £55 million Sport & Fitness Club includes six glass back squash courts with 200 spectator seats, a 2,000m² indoor arena and a second sports hall. The two halls will be a spectacular setting for the main all-glass squash show court and a secondary show court.
The University’s two existing water-based synthetic pitches are currently undergoing a £4 million refurbishment which will bring them up to International Hockey Federation (FIH) standard and Birmingham 2022 has the opportunity to shape their development to ensure they are Commonwealth Games compliant. Temporary seating for 5,000 spectators will also be installed for the Games with the University’s iconic red-brick buildings providing a stunning backdrop.
Olympic Champion from Rio 2016, Hockey, and University of Birmingham student, Lily Owsley MBE, currently trains at the University:
“Since becoming a student at Birmingham I’ve had the benefit of being able to study, train and play on this fantastic campus, with world class facilities and support. It’s already pretty amazing that 11 of the GB Women’s squad are University of Birmingham students or alumni. The opening of the new Sport & Fitness facilities, and the new pitches and new pavilion will make Birmingham an even more popular choice for ambitious hockey players, and sportsmen and women generally who want to combine study and sport on an incredible campus like this. To also be the location for the Commonwealth Games would be unbelievable.
“Winning a Silver Medal at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games helped motivate me and prepare me for Rio and the incredible experience of winning gold. A home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022 will certainly be an incentive for me to continue playing to make the England team for 2022, and play on home ground here on campus. I’m sure it will also inspire many other young players to live their dream of playing for England in a major Games on home turf.”
Will training venues and facilities benefit wider community?
University of Birmingham has a number of other sports facilities which could be used for teams training ahead of the Games, including a 50m training pool, a new 8-lane 400m track, outdoor pitches, and the recently opened Chrissie’s Gym within the brand new Sport and Fitness building. The members’ gym is named after University of Birmingham alumna, British triathlete and four-time Ironman World Champion, Chrissie Wellington OBE:
“I am so supportive of Birmingham’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games. It would be absolutely fantastic for the University, for the whole City and indeed the whole country, if it was to be hosted here. Having this state of the art facility will only help us to win the bid and I put my name wholeheartedly behind that and will do whatever I can to support the City and its bid to host the Games.”
Volunteering and personal development
Birmingham is a young city, with nearly 40% of the population under 25 years of age, and the highest proportion of under 20 year olds of any major city in the UK. The city has the third largest university student population in the UK, after London and Manchester, with 78,000 students. Five local universities produce more than 26,000 graduates per year and 20 universities are within an hour’s drive of the centre.
Together with further education and sixth-form colleges, the universities provide a vast pool of talent from which local employers can select. A Birmingham 2022 Games will provide thousands of these students and young people with personal and skills development through volunteering and employment opportunities which will benefit business too.
Beyond leveraging university facilities and providing opportunities for thousands of students, a Birmingham 2022 Games will engage young people through a broader education initiative that will support primary and secondary schools. The Games would also help further develop links with education organisations in Commonwealth nations.
Zena Wooldridge OBE, Director of Sport, University of Birmingham; President, European Squash Federation; and member of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Steering Group, said:
“Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid is so well timed for the University’s involvement, coinciding with the University’s significant investment in sports facilities. Although our facilities weren’t designed primarily for major events, the combination of facilities were planned 6 years ago to fill strategic gaps in the city’s provision. So we are delighted those plans are able to contribute to a bid which can already deliver 95% of the Games’ facility needs, and provide exceptionally high quality venues.”
“It’s also exciting for our students and other members to be using a Commonwealth Games venue, and will hopefully encourage them to become Games’ volunteers.”
“As President of European Squash, I’m obviously very excited about the prospect of hosting the squash venue at University of Birmingham. Birmingham has historically been the heart of squash in England and globally. To re-establish that, we’re already attracting a range of international squash events to Birmingham, but the Commonwealth Games is the big one.”
Ian Ward, Deputy Leader Birmingham City Council and Chair, Birmingham Commonwealth Games Steering Group, said:
“Birmingham has a strong reputation for education, attracting students from all over the world to its five universities. A Birmingham 2022 Games will help raise awareness of the City’s expertise even further and also open up a host of opportunities for students with volunteering and jobs. By engaging one of the largest student populations across the country, who are energetic and enthused, we can deliver a Games that reflects Birmingham as a young and diverse city at the heart of the UK and soul of the Commonwealth.