Pompey legend Alan Knight launches school’s sports development

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HE had to dig deep to get the wins during his illustrious 22-year playing career at Portsmouth FC.

But yesterday, it was a different sort of digging for Alan Knight, as he led a ground-breaking ceremony for a £4.5m state-of-the-art sports facility at Warblington School.

Ex-Pompey goalkeeper Alan Knight was at Warblington School  for an official ground breaking ceremony to mark the start of a �4.5 million project to develop a new sports facilities at the school. (l-r) Conner Grant (12), Ex-Pompey goalkeeper Alan Knight, Rob Andrew, head of P.E, Evie Slater (12), Julia Vincent, headteacher, Steph Ward (11) and Charlie Bolton (12).Picture: Sarah Standing (131955-1832)

Ex-Pompey goalkeeper Alan Knight was at Warblington School for an official ground breaking ceremony to mark the start of a �4.5 million project to develop a new sports facilities at the school. (l-r) Conner Grant (12), Ex-Pompey goalkeeper Alan Knight, Rob Andrew, head of P.E, Evie Slater (12), Julia Vincent, headteacher, Steph Ward (11) and Charlie Bolton (12).Picture: Sarah Standing (131955-1832)

After more than a decade of waiting for improvements to facilities, the school in Southleigh Road is on the verge of a transformation.

A huge artificial grass pitch with floodlights – suitable for a variety of sports – will be up and running by the autumn half-term.

There will also be outdoor cricket nets and a sports hall, which is set to open by the end of next year.

A dance studio and gym will be included in the development, as well as an improved athletics track and outdoor grass pitches.

The work has been made possible after the school sold a patch of unused land.

This will be turned into an 80-home development.

Alan, who holds the record for the most appearances for a single club by a goalkeeper, having played 683 league games, said: ‘It’s fantastic they have put the money back into sport.

‘You don’t have to be the greatest at a particular sport.

‘It’s important for health and discipline – whether it be football, tennis, hockey or whatever.

‘It’s a big opportunity for children to play whatever sport they choose.’

He added: ‘All we had at my school was a little gym with some wall bars and some rope – so we did not have a great deal.

‘But things have moved on and this will be state-of-the-art stuff.’

Outside school hours, the facilities will be available to hire for local clubs, with Hurstwood Rangers, Hayling United and Castle United already on-board.

Julia Vincent, headteacher, said: ‘It’s going to allow the school to be much more open to its community. That’s important.

‘It should be a hub. As a former PE teacher, it’s an absolute waste of time for school sport facilities to lie fallow during evenings, weekends and school holidays.’

Conner Grant, 12, from Bedhampton, said: ‘I’m looking forward to it.

‘There will be something for everyone.’