Northampton Saints wheelchair rugby coach Jamie Higgins believes the side’s new partnership with the Northampton International Academy (NIA) will help the club continue to flourish.
As part of a new agreement with the NIA, Saints Wheelchair Rugby will have access to the facility for weekly training sessions for the next three years.
Saints will also be able to host at least four exhibition matches there outside of regular-season games – and have already lined up two friendly fixtures against Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby team on Sunday 24th February.
In return, NIA students will be able to access wheelchair rugby training from Northampton’s dedicated coaches and learn more than ever about disability sport – with the hope of feeding more junior players into the Saints set-up itself.
Higgins, who has been coaching Saints Wheelchair Rugby since its inception at the start of 2017, is delighted the side now has a new venue to call home.
“This partnership with the NIA gives us the opportunity to grow Saints Wheelchair Rugby further, after what has been a very progressive two years for the club,” he said.
“Giving us a full-time home to train and host our own games will support the club and enable us to become a much more sustainable community programme.
“Moreover, being able to offer coaching sessions to the students of the NIA will allow us to introduce a larger audience to wheelchair rugby – one of the fastest-growing disability sports – as well as building a link between the local community and the team.”
The NIA is an all-through school in the heart of the town centre, which currently has 800 pupils and will reach its full capacity of 2,200 by 2021.
And headteacher Tim Marston is relishing the prospect of specialist wheelchair rugby coaching for the school’s students, with insight into disability sport becoming ever more important in education.
He said: “Here at NIA, we are lucky to have some excellent sporting facilities, including a fantastic four-court rooftop sports hall, as well as a multi-use game area in the grounds which is due to open later this year.
“As a local school, we are delighted to be able to offer Saints Wheelchair Rugby use of our facilities for their training sessions.
“In return we look forward to welcoming the team into the school, to lead wheelchair rugby for our students.”
Northampton International Academy is a brand-new school, based in the centre of Northampton, providing high-quality educational provision for young people from across the local area. For more information, please CLICK HERE.
Saints Wheelchair Rugby will take on Leicester Tigers at Northampton International Academy on Sunday 24th February. The matches are free to watch and begin at 11am then 1pm.