BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Scotland’s landmark new £33 million performance centre, Oriam, will craft athletes from “grassroots to greatness” after drawing inspiration from around the world, according to CEO Catriona McAllister.
The project will become the heart of sport in this country, with Gordon Strachan’s national team, Vern Cotter’s rugby stars, as well as Basketball Scotland, Scottish Handball and Scottish Squash and Racketball all set to utilise the facilities.
With the doors set to open in less than a year at the Heriot-Watt base, the assembled press were afforded a glimpse behind the scenes as building work continues.
Oriam will ultimately boast an indoor pitch, which matches the exact dimensions of Hampden Park and has seating for 500, top-level grass and synthetic outdoor pitches and a high performance strength and conditioning centre.
McAllister said: ”This facility, on a personal and professional level, is so exciting because you are working with athletes at the very top of their game – but also getting to influence every level and age group.
“I’m just as exciting seeing a young child have a good experience here as I am about seeing Gordon Strachan and his squad come through the doors.
”Grassroots to greatness is the way we think about it. It’s a landmark project for Scotland. It’s not just about focusing on the athletes, it’s about everything that supports them.”
The project has already been given a thumbs-up by Strachan, who visited the site earlier this month alongside SFA chief executive Stewart Regan.
McAllister added: “Gordon Strachan was delighted with the facility. Not just because of the immediate difference it will make, but with the opportunity to technically develop a player over a longer period of time.
“It is about developing the best coaches, the best sports scientists and improving every aspect of an athletes development.”
Neil Gibson, the Director of Sport, Performance and Health at Oriam, has been involved in this project since its inception and explained how they drew inspiration from around the world in a bid to give Scottish athletes the chance to shine.
He said: “We did a really extensive trip. We visited INSEP in Paris which is a fantastic multi-sports facility, Papendal in Holland and they taught us that everything doesn’t need to be all-singing and dancing. It needs to be functional and give everyone access.
”We saw England’s training base at St George’s Park and a number of Rugby League and Union teams in England. For example, Wigan Warriors have a lovely, streamlined training base, with everything you would need.
“We tried to take all that into what we have done here, allied with asking sports in this country exactly what they needed and providing that.”
While Gibson acknowledges that top class facilities are no guarantee of a world class production line of talent, he believes it will give every athlete the opportunity to be the best they can be.
He continued: “Rugby and football with be major users of the centre but so will Sport Scotland and their variety of sports and individuals and squads.
”They will use this on a day to day basis, whether it is the hydrotherapy pool, the rehab area or the strength and conditioning gym. In terms of sport across the boards, it will be used and athletes across Scotland will benefit from access to these facilities.
”People will be able to use this facility as much as they want, it will allow them to be physically ready and practice their game throughout the year with the indoor facilities.
“Most people get to the next level by honing their skills and putting in the hours. The Performance Centre won’t make them do it, it won’t give them the motivation if that’s not already inside them – but it will give every athlete the chance to get to the highest level their ability allows.”