Multi-million pound sports complex under construction
A WORLD-LEADING performance facility which promises to change the face of Island sport is under construction in St Peter.
Four years after initial plans were submitted for a state-of-the-art academy, work has finally begun on land recently bought from Jersey Rugby Club and the multi-million pound complex – branded ‘Strive’, by project leaders – could be completed by next summer.
The building, spanning two floors and covering an area of 32,000 square feet, is set to feature one of Europe’s most well-equipped gymnasiums while also boasting a hydrotherapy pool for resistance swimming and running, altitude chambers, a dojo and a lecture theatre. A five-strong list of experts in the world of sports performance – covering sports science, psychology, nutrition and directorship – have been recruited to oversee the training of around 30 locally-employed staff, while private members will be catered for through a high-tech health club.
The facility was given the green light on the condition that it would provide a protected service to the community and 15,000 visits per year have been allocated to Island schoolchildren through PE lessons. Heavily-subsided coaching, support and medical services will also be available to Island sports associations and clubs.
Ben Harvey, the former Jersey RFC director of rugby, who is fronting the privately-funded project, said: ‘My focus is to take a kid who would never have had an opportunity, and get them on a podium.
‘The phrase we’re using is “playground to podium” and we want the kids to be the best they can be. If the podium is just having a bit more self-esteem and confidence, fantastic, if it’s winning Olympic gold, brilliant. We don’t want any stigma about us only looking for gold medallists, because we’re not. If we can make the Island slightly healthier we’ll have done one hell of a job.’
But, with the help of its members, Strive will still assign considerable resources to top-level activity as they attempt to turn Jersey into a globally-recognised hotbed for sporting talent.
‘The athlete centre will be a huge space,’ Harvey explained.
‘It will have a performance gym with everything you’d need to train a sailor to a rugby player to a netballer to a disabled athlete. But there are two elements to the building – the academy and the members’ health club – so we will also look after the local community.
‘The science and medical expertise will be there to look after Joe Bloggs as well and the premise is that people will become members in the knowledge that they’re actually helping out the community. The members area is so important ... they will be helping fund hundreds of junior athletes, or those who are aiming to go to the Commonwealth Games, and we’d love to be able to send them all a message from an athlete who has just represented Jersey, England or Great Britain, saying “I could never have done that without your support”. It will have a proper community feel.’
Harvey added that he is 'actively targeting' the All Blacks for training camps in Jersey ahead of the annual Autumn Internationals series.
More in Monday's JEP.
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