Scotland netball internationalist Jo Pettitt says Edinburgh’s sporting landscape is set to be revolutionised as the result of Oriam’s state-of-the-art Sports Performance Centre, which is due to open in August.
Pettitt, who plays for club side Glasgow South Saltires, was in awe at what she saw during yesterday’s tour of the £33million facility located within the campus of Heriot-Watt University.
Netball Scotland were one of three Scottish sports governing bodies in attendance to sign official partnership deals with a venue that will boast a full size indoor synthetic pitch for both football and rugby with 500 seats for spectators, a 32metre x 54metre multi-use sports hall, exercise studios and eight squash courts once completed. There will also be five outdoor grass pitches for football and two for rugby.
Pettitt was joined by basketball internationalist Kieron Achara and handball’s Lynn McCafferty at the exclusive tour,.
Pettitt, 20, who helped Scotland to a 12th place at last year’s World Cup in Australia, was blown away by what she described as a “world-class facility”.
“It’s absolutely enormous and it’s just great there’s a purpose-built facility to create an elite athlete environment where we can train and compete at the highest level,” she said.
“Even just the differences in the changing rooms... the facilities with the hydro pools, warm-up courts and tracks, it’s going to be incredible.
“I think it’s going to attract athletes from all over the world to train and compete here. You get very few venues across the world that have so much to offer so to have that here in Edinburgh is just a huge step forward. We haven’t hosted a national netball tournament in Edinburgh for a long time so it will be really exciting to bring something big back to the Capital.
“People are becoming a lot more interested in netball with participation rates increasing all the time. It’s being shown a lot more on TV as well. We managed to move our world ranking into the top ten after last summer’s World Cup in Sydney so we’re getting better. Our next major championships is the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018 so this will give us a great training hub ahead of going over there.”
Oriam aims to provide Scotland’s top sportsmen and women with the facilities, access and support services pivotal for successful performance on an international platform. Scotland football manager Gordon Strachan and SRU rugby head coach Vern Cotter have already given their approval at what they’ve seen.
Oriam chief executive Catriona McAllister said: “It’s hugely exciting for us as we’ve been with this project for over three years now. For sport in Scotland, I think it gives us a focal point and shows we’re serious about trying to create better athletes.
“I think it’s hugely important for Edinburgh and that’s why the project has been backed by the city council. You only have to look at some of the venues that were developed over in the west as part of the Commonwealth Games and then you have Aberdeen Sports Village and the Peak in Stirling, I think Edinburgh was starting to need some investment of sport and infrastructure, particularly at the performance end.
“It would be naive to say the facility will make the absolute difference. But I think once the athletes arrive here they’ll know they are at the pinnacle of their sport. It’s great when you show people around because there is that wow factor. We’ve toured both Gordon Strachan and Vern Cotter and they are both extremely excited about the future of the centre and what it can provide.
“Hearts are obviously based here already and are sure to make use of it. They’ve been great with us because there has been some disruption since we started work. We’ve also got a booking from Hibs already so both football clubs in the city are eager to try it out.”