Wallace High School are planning to dominate Ulster schoolboy hockey for many seasons to come.
The Lisburn-based double Schools’ Cup winners will open their new blue astro pitch, which is a first in Northern Ireland if not Ireland, on Friday in an extravaganza of hockey and entertainment.
Wallace are grateful to Sport NI and also the Trustees for their financial support in this exciting development. Modelled on the “smurf turf” which was played on during the Olympic Games hockey tournament in London 2012, the move will give hockey players at the Lisburn school a top class facility on their own doorstep, whilst it will also be available for the community outside normal school hours.
Chief Executive of Sport Northern Ireland, Antoinette McKeown, said: “Sport Northern Ireland is delighted to have supported Wallace High School in funding the 2G hockey pitch.
“It is great to see that our investment of almost £245k is providing value for money and increased sporting opportunities for our young people.
“Facilities such as Wallace High School are vital in increasing the number of children and adults participating in sport and physical activity.”
Friday will begin with local Primary school children being invited to the school to be coached by some of the senior players with the emphasis being mainly on having fun and learning some of the skills of the game.
Dame Mary Peters will officially open the pitch at 7pm.
At 4pm the current girls’ 1st XI will play the 2011 1st XI which reached the final of the Schoolgirls’ Cup before being defeated on penalty strokes by Lurgan College.
At 5.30pm boys who have represented the school this season will be joined by past pupils in a game where teams will be mixed. It is also hoped that several past senior international players will come out of retirement for this game which can only add to the occasion.
One of the highlights of the day and also the school year will be a display by the Wild Geese sky diving team which will take place between 6.30pm and 6.45pm. They will deliver the match ball for the final game of the day.
An Ulster under 17 boys’ XI will take on their Scottish counterparts in the official opening match on the new pitch.
Wallace Principal, Mrs Deborah O’Hare, said: “This is a facility not only to benefit our hockey players but one which will benefit the community of Lisburn. Without the support of the Trustees of the school and Sport NI this would not have been possible.
“In times of such austerity it was encouraging to note that local government funding was still available as an important investment in the health and well being of generations of young people who will use this facility for a variety of sporting activities.”