The Rugby Football League, the sport’s governing body in England, wants to create the nation’s first hub for the development of skills and social mobility purely through sport, according to a planning statement by Deloitte Real Estate.
Sport in general, and Rugby League in particular, can be a fundamental power for social change. Increasingly, sports at the heart of their communities deliver a range of services – far wider than playing or coaching sport – which tap into the affinity we have with sport, and local pride, to connect and support people and increase aspiration.
The Rugby League World Cup in England in 2022 is already demonstrating the local, regional and national inspiration and practical impact of hosting major international events – something the UK excels at.
Designed by architects, Holmes Miller, The Our League Life National Centre would be located on a 3.3-acre site off Bell Crescent in Beswick, East Manchester. The plot, on the edge of the Grey Mare Lane estate, is currently occupied by a clutch of vacant retail units that are to be demolished.
Under plans lodged with Manchester City Council, the RFL would redevelop the site, creating a 900-capacity stand, classrooms and seminar rooms, changing facilities and a media room.
The RFL will use the facility to offer rugby-based education courses in sports management, coaching, leadership, business administration, nutrition and physiology, among others.
In addition, the complex could also be used as a training facility for the RFL’s affiliated elite teams.
The RFL plans to make the most of the surrounding facilities at the Etihad Campus, using the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance as part of the training, rehabilitation and development of the national squads.
Ralph Rimmer, CEO at the RFL concluded; “The sport has a strong commitment to acting as an enabler for social benefit, and social mobility, in the communities we serve. We can evidence the impact that this sport makes in improving life chances and we are now stimulating a discussion with political leaders around the need to innovate and find new ways to provide young people in our core areas with the skills and experience they need to succeed.”