Sarah Boyack: Community legacy will benefit from Heriot Watt centre

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Bringing the National Performance Centre for Sport to Heriot Watt will help build a legacy for the community, says Sarah Boyack

Over the summer the location of Scotland’s new National Performance Centre for Sport will be revealed. Edinburgh is very much in the running.

Heriot Watt University’s bid, supported by the City Council, was shortlisted in April along with bids from Dundee and Stirling.

With a little over two weeks until the deadline for final bids, the team behind Edinburgh’s proposal is working flat out to make the case for the city, getting the endorsement of sporting heroes like Sir Chris Hoy, Gavin Hastings and Freya Murray.

The National Performance Centre will be about elite sport – providing world class facilities to help our next generation of sporting stars achieve their potential.

The Edinburgh bid is well placed in this regard. Heriot Watt already has a stellar reputation through its links with a range of professional sporting bodies.

However, it is the potential of the facility to open opportunities for local community groups, sports clubs and students to get involved in sport that has really caught my attention as a Lothian’s representative.

The London Olympics raised young people’s aspirations across the UK and I believe next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will raise the profile of competitive sport even higher. So the timing of the new National Performance Centre couldn’t be better.

Heriot Watt University is already designated as a Community Sports Hub with a commitment to developing opportunities for individuals in our communities to get active.

Bringing the National Performance Centre to Edinburgh would help enhance this role, particularly in the west of the city.

Although the centre will focus on promoting elite sport, it could play an important role in encouraging young people in our communities who would not otherwise become involved in sport alongside local clubs.

We need developments at the grassroots level too and local projects being developed by young people such as the Easter Drylaw skate park and the proposal to refurbish the Saughton Enclosure to raise the quality of facilities for football and athletics need to be on the agenda too.

We all need to get behind the campaign to bring the new National Performance Centre for Sport to Heriot Watt, but we also need to make sure that we’re building a legacy across the city at the community level too.

Sarah Boyack is a Lothians list MSP