By Claire Cooper
Rugby World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio officially opened Warden Park Academy’s new 3G sports facility last month.
The former England captain, and member of the 2003 World Cup winning team, cut the ribbon to officially open the all-weather pitch - named the Chisholm Stoneley Sports Pitch to recognise many years of service from Deputy Heads Pete Chisholm and Rob Stoneley.
He also enjoyed watching students try out the new facility with a ‘skills and mini games’ demonstration.
It was the second visit to the school by the rugby star who in July cut the first turf for work to begin on the £500,000 project.
“I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone up,” said Dallaglio. “The contractors have done an amazing job in such a short time. It’s a wonderful facility which will make young people more enthusiastic about getting out and playing sport.”
Dallaglio spoke of his ‘amazing and colourful’ career with Wasps and with the England rugby squad and told the students ‘anything is possible’. “When I was at school I never made the first team, but if you work hard and enjoy your sport anything is possible,” he said. “Sport changes lives – it certainly changed mine. It gives kids something to aspire to and creates opportunities for them.”
Dallaglio was also impressed to hear that the pitch is available for community groups to hire and has already been booked by local sports clubs, including Cuckfield FC, Cuckfield Cosmos, AFC Haywards, Pink Flamingoes FC and Lindfield Juniors FC.
Pro Direct Soccer Academy will also be based at Warden Park, while Sussex County FA is planning to use the facility for coach development courses.
Dallaglio was invited to perform the opening ceremony by his friend and former Warden Park student Jon Ball, whose company Fairfax Properties supported the project with a £60,000 donation.
Read more on p.9 of Nov/Dec 2016 Cuckfield Life magazine