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England Netball star officially opens St Mary’s Long Road Sports Pavilion

St Mary’s School in Cambridge has officially opened the final element of its state-of-the-art Long Road sports ground, with England Netball player, Francesca Williams, cutting the ribbon to open the doors to the new sports pavilion. The completion of this final stage of the ambitious investment programme has greatly enhanced the provision of physical education (PE) for girls studying at the school.

Francesca Williams, who currently plays for Loughborough Lightning in the Netball Superleague and has previously captained England’s U21 side, opened the pavilion on Saturday 26th March 2022 at an afternoon of sporting fun at the Long Road sports ground. The event was attended by St Mary’s students and their families, staff, past sporting alumnae, governors and the new 22/23 cohort of students.

To welcome guests to the event, talented St Mary’s students performed an energetic dance display in the car park. Other exciting activities included home team hockey matches, parent / daughter tennis tournaments, fun competitions, and netball workshops with Francesca. There was a catering van serving healthy snacks and refreshments throughout the day. The afternoon closed with empowering speeches from Francesca, St Mary’s staff and students.

Louise Powell, Director of Sport at St Mary’s School, said: “It’s been incredible to watch this major project come to fruition, and we thank Francesca for coming today to help us officially open the site. Despite some small setbacks caused by the pandemic, we kept the works on site on track and are delighted to have now fully completed this important investment. With recent research* suggesting that girls lose interest in sport when they leave primary school, our ‘sport for all’ mantra ensures that each of our girls has the opportunity to take part in physical activities that are of huge benefit to their physical fitness and mental health. Taking part in sports also teaches the girls valuable lessons relating to leadership, motivation, teamwork and respect. These exceptional new facilities are a step change in the delivery of sports at St Mary’s and, with our brand new pavilion now open, students will be able to make even greater use of the site and everything it has to offer.”

The pavilion is the last part of a re-development project that began in October 2019. Undertaken in partnership with Homerton College, the renovation of the school’s sports ground at Long Road has transformed St Mary’s ability to deliver its PE curriculum, train its students and host competitive matches.

Acting as a central hub for the site, the pavilion features a kitchen, changing rooms and space for a club room. The building sits alongside a state-of-the-art 3G rugby and football pitch, artificial all-weather pitches for hockey, netball and tennis courts, athletics facilities, a grass pitch for football and athletics, as well as cricket nets. St Mary’s students began enjoying the refurbished sports ground at the start of the 2020 /21 academic term. With the pavilion now open, the school’s sports programme will ramp up.

Working with Ingleton Wood Martindales Ltd., the Long Road scheme has been designed to minimise its environmental impact and the site’s overall carbon footprint. Steps to achieve this included the installation of solar panels, energy efficient lighting / floodlighting, planting additional trees in the space, wildlife preservation, as well as several further measures.

St Mary’s offers sport scholarships for students entering Year 7,Year 9 and Year 12. To be considered for a sports scholarship, students must have a high level of skill in more than one sport or be very good in a range of different sports.

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