THE SOL Plaatje University (SPU) Sport Precinct, a first of its kind in the Northern Cape, was officially opened on Friday evening by SPU’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Andrew Crouch.
SPU officials and stakeholders were joined by the National Lotteries Commission, contributors to the Sport Precinct project, which began in 2016. Conveniently situated in the heart of Kimberley, the SPU Sport Precinct is a mixed-use facility that has sport offices, student residences, a conference facility, along with world-class sporting facilities.
The sports precinct boasts diverse sport facilities: two netball courts, two tennis courts, two basketball courts, one hockey AstroTurf with a practice field, three multi-coded hard courts for either basketball, netball, or tennis, two stadiums with a practice field (which can be used for rugby or soccer), a combination of two soccer fields and one cricket oval with artificial turf and a natural clay pitch that can also be used for rugby.
But that’s not all, there are also two volleyball beach courts and three volleyball hard courts, four cricket practice nets, one cross-fit gym container and exercise space, and one outdoor self-weight gym area.
As a premier attraction to the city, the SPU Sport Precinct will deliver an exceptional visitor experience to both supporters and attendees. As a proud member of the Northern Cape community, SPU has made the precinct available for hire to the public for recreational purposes, as well as to affiliated sports and recreation clubs.
Sol Plaatje University prides itself on providing excellence and establishing strong, long-term relationships with stakeholders. The public is therefore encouraged to use and access their spaces and to join SPU as a trusted partner for events and sports.
During his speech, professor Crouch, said that the Sport Precinct is part of a bigger vision that they have for the university.
“This university positioned itself to make a contribution to the people of Kimberley and the greater Northern Cape. It is also important to us that partners and partnerships will carry us forward in this goal of engaging with the community, and that is why partners in the sports arena are so important, and that is why I would like to thank the National Lotteries Commission for being one of the partners in this quest we have as an university,” said Crouch.
He went on to say that sport exists to unite people, entertain people, and provide opportunities to people in the country who would not otherwise have had them.
According to Crouch, sport is also about the small Saturday school events that you take your children to and the Sunday community events where the odd netball and hockey games are played, bringing communities together to spend time around the sports fields.
“We have ambitions as an institution to excel in sports. We want to prioritise talented sportspersons and athletes who wish to study here at Sol Plaatje University, because that will contribute to development – not only for their own personal development – but also for selected sports codes here at the university.
“Our goal is to provide high-quality sports programmes that foster athletic excellence and holistic development. It is all about developing the human being.
“We hope to construct a high-performance sports centre that will serve the entire Northern Cape, not just Kimberley residents,” he continued.
Crouch said that next week, on Wednesday, he will be taking a proposal to the university council for the establishment of a number of sports bursaries so that they can fund sportspersons who would like to study at the university, but added that they would have to meet the academic criteria to do so.
“Hopefully the creation of that avenue will allow us to focus on specific sports codes that we will fund, but that does not mean that we have forgotten about all the other sports codes we have on campus. Having soccer, netball, hockey, cricket, and rugby available for our students will make it possible to supply these services to the community at large,” he said.
Crouch stated that the young people from the Northern Cape are poached by neighbouring institutions that have a long pedigree and history of excelling in sports, and the youth of the Northern Cape are then lost forever to other provinces.
Since the development of the sports precinct and their association with the Griqualand West Rugby Union through their purchase of the stadium, the university has now generated a lot of interest in the Northern Cape.
“This facility will allow us to host events with various partners. Last year we hosted the national university Sevens championship, and by all accounts I was told that it was such a successful event that they are coming back this year as well as next year,” he said.
“This facility will also be available for other major events that are played in Kimberley and the Northern Cape.”
Crouch concluded his speech by thanking all the delegates who attended the event and noting that history had been made with the launch of the Sol Plaatje University Sports Precinct.
Seeing what the university sports precinct has to offer, sport in the Northern Cape will be getting a very healthy boost, and hopefully our next sports stars will be born straight from the Sol Plaatje University.