‘Centre closure makes it much less likely next Marcus Rashford or Emma Raducanu will come from Mansfield Woodhouse’

It was announced this week that the Manor Sport and Recreation Centre, a hub of the Mansfield Woodhouse community, is to close to the public.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 4:30 pm

The decision by the Ashfield-based Two Counties Trust, which manages The Manor Academy, is devastating, particularly for our local clubs who have now been left homeless.

The Manor Sports and Recreation Centre forms part of the academy, with the trust being responsible for the running of both premises.

For more than two decades, the school has provided high-quality facilities to the people of Mansfield Woodhouse.

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Lee Proctor is secretary of Manor FC, a community football club in Mansfield Woodhouse for all age groups. He also manages the adult grassroots team.

The idea for the Manor School to apply for specialist sports college status came as a result of its 1994 Ofsted report, in which physical education was singled out with special praise.

So good was the standard of PE, that Manor was used as an example of good practice for all schools in an Ofsted publication.

When the leisure centre was opened in 2000 by the Duke of Gloucester, Mansfield Woodhouse was proud to be home to the first specialist sports college in Nottinghamshire.

At the opening, headteacher Jonathon Hickman was quoted as saying: “It’s fantastic for us as a school, for the students, and for the community.”

The Manor Sports Complex is home to a number of sporting teams

Just more than 20 years later, with the announcement of the closure of the centre to the public, the community aspect has been completely eroded away.

It has been stated by the trust that ‘reopening the community lettings is not in the best interest of our schools and students’.

The reasoning goes on to explain that the ‘learning and wellbeing of our pupils across the trust must remain our priority at this time and reopening these facilities to the community would divert essential resources going to our pupils’.

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Failure

There is a significant failure on part of the trust to realise or acknowledge that many of the pupils at their school are the very people who make the most of the community lettings through youth football clubs.

The year 2021 has been a year of huge sporting success for the UK, with England reaching the finals of the European Championships, 65 medals being won at the Olympic Games, and 18-year-old tennis star Emma Raducanu winning the US Open.

It is a year that has seen millions of children be inspired by the stars of the sporting world, with the hope they too might one day reach the very top level.

But the trust’s decision to close the leisure centre and cease community lettings makes it much less likely that the next Marcus Rashford or Emma Raducanu will originate from Mansfield Woodhouse.

Instead, further barriers have been erected in the faces of some of the already most disadvantaged young people in the country.

The Two Counties Trust should reconsider this short sighted decision. Otherwise, they will kill off countless grassroots sports clubs, no doubt impacting many of their own students.

By Lee Proctor, secretary of Manor FC, a community football club in Mansfield Woodhouse for all age groups. He also manages the adult grassroots team.

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