The Nevin Spence Centre, a new education and heritage facility at Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby, was formally opened today by Northern Ireland Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.
The Nevin Spence Centre, funded by the Northern Ireland Executive, is named in memory of former Ulster player Nevin Spence, who died in a farming accident along with his father Noel and his brother Graham in September 2012.
Housed in the Memorial End Stand, the Nevin Spence Centre contains interactive and audio-visual content and enables visitors to explore the history of rugby in Ulster and the benefits that the game has for players, supporters and society in general.
The centre was designed by leading consultancy company Mather & Co. and showcases the science and technology that underpins the game of rugby to fit with the school curriculum (key stages 2-4).
A bespoke interactive gaming zone, developed in partnership with the Movement Innovation Lab in the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, demonstrates performance and match analysis and features avatars created by staff and students at South West College in Enniskillen.
Visitors can also get a sense of what it is like to kick for goal at Kingspan Stadium by having a go at a kicking challenge in an innovative virtual environment, choose their Ulster Rugby dream team in an interactive game and watch short films showcasing female rugby, disability rugby mini rugby and the senior Ulster team.
A digital Ulster Rugby vault houses hundreds of digital images of team photographs, minute books and reports from over 100 years of rugby in Ulster.
In addition, the Nevin Spence Centre also contains a number of significant historical items including the lion carried by the unbeaten 1974 British & Irish Lions (loaned by Willie John McBride), Dr Jack Kyle’s Ireland jersey (loaned by the Kyle family) and the old Irish interprovincial trophy.
Bobby Stewart, President of the Ulster Branch of the the IRFU, said: “This centre tells the history of rugby in Ulster, while demonstrating the important benefits of a healthy lifestyle and I have no doubt that it will become an important resource for schools and the education community across the province.
“The centre is also a vibrant and entirely fitting way to remember Nevin who was so tragically taken from us almost three years ago. On behalf of the Ulster Branch, I would like to thank the Sports Minister and the Northern Ireland Executive for their support of this project.”
Minister Carál Ní Chuilín commented: “I am pleased to officially open the Nevin Spence Centre at Kingspan Stadium. The stadium has, from its inception, placed the community benefits at the very top of the priority list.
“The Nevin Spence Centre will bring children from all over the North and from all backgrounds to Kingspan Stadium and will allow them to learn new skills in a very fun environment.
“The incredible transformation of the stadium is now complete. We have a world-class stadium as the home of Ulster Rugby and a state-of-the-art education centre that will provide our young people with the opportunity to learn about the creative industries and the STEM agenda.
“I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the project and I hope that this wonderful new facility will help educate future generations for years to come.”
The Nevin Spence Centre opens to the public on September 1, 2015 and is open Monday – Friday from 10am until 5pm. Visits to the Nevin Spence Centre must be booked in advance.
To set up a booking, please email email@example.com outlining the date that you wish to visit and the number of people who wish to attend. Alternatively, bookings can be made by calling 02890493111 or 02890493222. For more details, please visit www.ulsterrugby.com/nevinspencecentre.