Football legend Denis Law and Olympic champion Jason Gardener MBE – two of the leading sportsmen of their generations – will join the celebrations for the official opening of Aberdeen’s world-class Sports Village today (Friday March 5).
Shona Robison, Minister for Public Health and Sport, and the Lord Provost of Aberdeen Peter Stephen will also visit the £28million Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), which has raised the bar when it comes to sports provision in the north-east of Scotland, catering for needs of elite athletes and community groups alike.
ASV is a joint venture between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Government through its expert advisers on sport, sportscotland. It opened its doors to the public in August and boasts an unrivalled standard of facilities outwith the central belt – all housed under one roof.
Aberdonian Law will unveil a plaque to commemorate the official opening of Aberdeen Sports Village, which has already proved a hit with users from the Granite City and beyond.
The former striker, who is the only Scottish player in history to have won the prestigious European Footballer of the Year award,will also meet children from his former schools Kittybrewster Primary and St Machar Academy (formerly Powis Academy).
Pupils will have an opportunity to try out the full-size FIFA-approved pitch - one of the first of its kind in the UK – in a coaching session which Law will watch.
Gardener, who won Olympic gold for the 4x100m relay at the 2004 Athens games and is part of only a select group of athletes to have broken the 10 second barrier for the 100m, will pass on his own expertise to children in the athletics area.
The Aberdeen Sports Village provides thebest indoor athletics facility in the North of Scotland, with a 135m six-lane running straight, fully-equipped areas for long and triple jump, high jump and pole vault, and a state-of-the-art indoor throws cage for hammer, discuss, shot putt and javelin.
Since it opened its doors more than 200,000 people have made use of the facilities, which also include a large sports hall, four squash courts, fitness suite and performance gym, exercise studios, a crèche and café.
The Sports Village has attracted users of all ages and from all sectors of the community, with 5,000 returning on a daily basis and popular groups such as the Evergreens club for over 60s now well established.
Membership numbers stand at 5,000 and in the recent big-freeze, football clubs - including Aberdeen and Peterhead - and rugby clubs, like Aberdeen Grammar and Ellon, flocked to make use of the superb indoor facilities when the weather put paid to outdoor training.
They were also utilised by Aberdeen boxer Lee McAllister ahead of the defence of his Commonwealth lightweight title fight against Samuel Amaoko, which he took on points.
Work is also progressing between the partners on plans to construct a 50m pool to further enhance facilities at Aberdeen Sports Village.
Law and Gardener will address an audience of around 200 invited guests and Law will conduct the official opening before they attend their respective skills sessions.
The Lord Provost of Aberdeen Peter Stephen and Shona Robison, Minister for Public Health and Sport will also make speeches.
Shona Robison said: “Aberdeen has a long history of producing some of Scotland’s outstanding athletes and top quality sports performances and the opening of this world class facility can only help to inspire future generations to get involved in sport and try a range of different activities.
“The Scottish Government’s and sportscotland’s investment into this new venue demonstrates our commitment to work with partners to secure a network of quality sports facilities across Scotland – which will help us achieve our twin ambitions of increasing participation and improving performance.
“Encouraging our communities to participate in sport and physical activity is the main aim of our Active Nation legacy campaign. This alongside the provision of excellent facilities supported by a sustainable workforce of coaches and volunteers will ensure Scotland becomes a modern, healthy and inclusive society, providing benefits that are visible and enjoyed by all.”
George Yule, Chairman of Aberdeen Sports Village, said: “The Aberdeen Sports Village is a fantastic facility and it is fitting that two of the leading sportsmen of their generations will be on hand to conduct the official opening.
“This local sports facility has been designed to international standards, with the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in mind, and is already benefitting aspiring athletes and the wider community alike.
“We have been delighted by the response to the Sports Village - all aspects of the facility are well used and we have had great feedback from users.
“Aberdeen Sports Village is working to bring other users to the facilities and in addition work is progressing with partners on the design of a 50 metre pool which will complement the facilities already provided on site.”
Denis Law added: “I’m very pleased to be invited to open Aberdeen Sports Village. It’s a facility that will encourage sporting development across all age groups and I only wish that I’d had the benefit of such fantastic sporting facilities on my doorstep during my childhood days in Aberdeen.
“I would encourage people of all ages, sports and skill levels to use this tremendous facility and congratulate all involved in bringing this to Aberdeen”