Glasgow’s Emirates Arena is up and running!
The £113 million sports venue at 1000 London Road in the city’s East End was opened on Friday 5 October 2012 by Glasgow City Council Leader, Gordon Matheson.
He stood at the door and personally welcomed some of the 400 pupils from Sacred Heart and Dalmarnock Primary Schools who were among the first official users into the building. They were trying out the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Scotland’s only indoor velodrome, which is an integral part of the venue.
During the weekend following the opening, the place attracted well over 10,000 people who were freely able to inspect the new facility.
Located next to the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village and Celtic Park, the Emirates Arena is the largest facility of its kind in Europe. During the Commonwealth Games in 2014, it will host the badminton and track cycling events and will be called the Commonwealth Arena for the duration of those Games.
The 10.5 hectare site also contains an indoor sports arena, three full-sized sports halls, 12 badminton courts, four outdoor 5-a-side football pitches, a 1km outdoor cycle circuit, one of the largest of Glasgow Club health and fitness centres and a luxury spa.
While it is home to Scotland’s only professional basketball team, The Glasgow Rocks, it is also home to citizens of Glasgow who are members of the Glasgow Club.
Said Councillor Matheson: ‘By investing in new facilities such as this, we will help to inspire a generation to become more involved in sport.’
He took a party of VIP guests on a tour of the Emirates Area. They included Shona Robison MSP, Minister for the Commonwealth Games and Sport; Gordon Arthur, Director of Communications and Marketing at Glasgow 2014; Michael Cavanagh, Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland; Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland and Denise Holmes, Emirates’ Sales Manager for Scotland and North East England.
Said Minister Shona Robison: ‘This will be an excellent venue for the 2014 Games, a world-class venue for Glasgow and a legacy for the West of Scotland.’
Emirate’s Sales Manager, Denise Holmes said: ‘This facility is unlike any I have ever seen. The thought that has gone into the design and execution makes it one of the best equipped and high-tech venues of its type, worldwide. The Emirates Arena is a flagship venue and we are honoured to be able to have such a close association with it and the people of Glasgow.’
Commented Lord Smith, Chair of Glasgow 2014: ‘This landmark venue is ready to welcome the best Commonwealth sportsmen and women, competing for glory in the badminton and track cycling events in less than two years’ time. The fact that it is now open to the local community and will host world-class events well in advance of the Games, is a tangible example tha the Games’ legacy is starting now.’
Said Michael Cavanagh, Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland: This truly fabulous facility will be one of the iconic venues in 2014. It all adds to the excitement for the athletes and their determination to be competing for Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014.’
Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland, said: ‘The Emirates Arena opening marks a key milestone on the road to Glasgow 2014. It is a truly phenomenal facility which will help inspire future generations to become involved in sport and physical activity. It will undoubtedly provide some fantastic sporting moments for years to come – the World Cup Track Cycling and the World Cup Gymnastics for a start. It will also be a real asset to the surrounding community who will benefit from regular access to this world-class facility.’
Between now and early February 2013, the Emirates Arena will be host to eight Scottish, European or World level sporting events.
For further information and ticket details see website: www.emiratesarena.co.uk
Glasgow Rocks fans describe the venue as ‘amazing’ despite the fact that their team lost to Newcastle Eagles in the very first game in the new arena. The Eagles won 106 – 84 after a strong push in the final quarter of the game.
East Dunbartonshire MP, Jo Swinson, met a delegation from the Human Rights in The Gambia Campaign before the holiday season. She heard how politicians, journalists and citizens of all backgrounds are living in fear under the regime of President Yahya Jammeh who took over with a military coup in July 1994.
Recent elections returned him to power and question marks have been raised by international monitoring organisations about the fairness of the November election process. Opponents were given 11 days to campaign in advance of polling day. Several were detained before and after the election. The media and the judiciary are almost exclusively controlled by the Government.
According to an Amnesty International report of 2008, there was a ‘climate of fear’ in the West African country which is part of the Commonwealth. A follow up report published earlier this year, said that the enforced disappearances of people, unlawful killings and torture in The Gambia indicated a ‘deteriorating human rights situation.’
The Lib Dem MP said she was surprised to learn some of the detail and raised questions on the economics of The Gambia and its relationship to Europe, the UK, the USA and the Economic Community of West African States. She said she would consider the information with a view to raising a cross party Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.
She is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Business Secretary Vince Cable in the Conservative/ Lib Dem coalition Government in London and a long standing member of Amnesty International.
Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival – the O2 Glasgow Mela – will erupt on Saturday 18 June at 12 noon in Kelvingrove Park. So stand back and enjoy the colour, music and fun from then till 8pm that night and again during the same hours on Sunday 19 June. This will be the first time in 21 years the event will take place over two days. It celebrates the city’s racial diversity and is based on the traditions and customs of the Indian sub-continent. And it is a free event!
Said Gosia Manka, Channel Marketing Manager at O2: ‘This is a fantastic community event. We are delighted, again, to offer our support and look forward to enjoying the wonderful celebrations of Asian arts and culture.’ Around 25,000 people attended last year.
Added Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life: ‘Glasgow is rightly proud of its rich multi-cultural heritage. A visit to Kelvingrove Park this weekend promises to put a smile on your face – expect colourful costumes, uplifting music and awesome dance routines from across the Commonwealth – and you won’t be disappointed. In its 21 year history, the festival has gone from strength to strength. It is certain to be another exciting, family, event and I’d encourage everyone to come along and enjoy.’
Bailie Hanzala Malik, Chair of the O2 Glasgow Mela Steering Group, said: ‘We have seen O2 Glasgow Mela grow in size and popularity to become one of the most keenly anticipated and enjoyed events of the summer by people of all ages and cultures. I am confident this will be the best celebration yet. It is certainly going to be the biggest, thanks to the wealth of acts performing across the two days. I would like to thank the many individuals and organisations involved for working so hard to help to ensure that Glasgow’s 21st Mela is one to remember.’
Among the many exciting performances will be the Chhau Dancers. These elaborately masked artists represent gods, monsters and animals and with a mix of powerfully executed acrobatic movements and mid-air somersaults tell their stories. Said Tinku from Chhau Dancers: ‘I have been looking forward to dancing in Glasgow. I’ve heard it is a very welcoming city. I hope our dancing inspires people to learn more about Indian culture and I look forward to finding out more about Scotland. That’s what the Mela is about after all – sharing the best parts of different cultures.’
Also billed are the Jaipur Maharaja Brass Band . They will provide a unique blend of Indian melodies and traditional Rajastani folk music with popular themes from Bollywood, jazz, funk, pop and reggae. Their set includes a spectaclar gypsy dancer, famous across India for her ‘cobra dance’. Local Bollywood talent, Desi Bravehearts, charmed the crowds last year and will add further colour with their traditional dance routines – which have great humour and are very advanced in style as if from the set of a blockbuster Bollywood movie.
Renowned, world-class Bhangra band – DCS – will play on both days. It is five years since their platinum selling sounds were heard at the Glasgow O2 Mela. With a back catalogue that includes Punjabi, Hindi and English, DCS have built a global reputation as the sound of British Asia. They are not to be missed! Said their frontman Shin: ‘Music is my life and I love sharing it with anyone who’ll listen. That’s why I love the Mela, it is a great way to introduce new people to Bhangra music and music is a great way to introduce people to new cultures. Glasgow was an awesome audience, the memory of performing at Mela last time will remain with me always. It was an incredible night, which is why I am really excited about returning.’
DCS will be joined on Saturday by the winner of the Best Urban Act Award at the UK AMAS and the Best British Asian Urban Act at the 2010 BritAsia awards, Mumzy Stranger, renowned for his unique style of urban music. And Bass2base, the first-ever Bollywood band to perform at the O2 Glasgow Mela, are set to delight festival-goers with their polished blend of new and old Bollywood styles with Bhangra, Hindi pop, funk, mehfil and urban sounds.
Other well-known urban artists certain to wow the crowds include Manak-E and Eletricat Brazilian Dance.
A new feature is a collaboration with eight schools across Glasgow. Priyanka Purohit, assistant to the legendary Bollywood choreographer Pratap Shetty, has been working with youngsters throughout the city who have been learning Bollywood, freestyle and Bhangra dance to perform on stage across the weekend.
Another innovation will be Dance Dhamaka. The aim of Dhamaka, meaning ‘explosion’, is to get Scotland dancing towards the Cultural Olympiads in 2012. To underline the multi-cultural nature of the Mela some of the most exciting dance groups in the country have been invited to perform. They will feature Flamenco, Chinese and Scottish dance.
The Kidz Zone will be dedicated to children. Other offerings include street theatre, arts, cultural exhibits and a trader’s bazaar with fine foods. Full details of the line ups for both days can be found at www.glasgowmela.com
Bank of Scotland has re-affirmed its commitment to sport by extending its sponsorship of scottishathletics and BadmintonScotland.
In January, Bank of Scotland parent group Lloyds Banking Group announced a partnership with the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games as part of a strategy to develop grassroots sport.
Susan Rice, Managing Director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland, said: ‘We are committed to helping these sports develop young athletes right up to elite performer level, to achieve their dreams of winning medals and trophies at major championships.
‘Of course, sport isn’t just about the winning; it’s also about taking part. That’s why we are so proud that our partnership helps to increase participation amongst young people in Scotland.’
Anne Smillie, Chief Executive of BadmintonScotland, said: ‘Badminton is one of the highest participation sports in the country and accessible to all. It’s a Commonwealth Games and Olympic sport. Really, the bank’s involvement allows us to do so much towards developing the sport from grassroots right through to elite level.’
The funding, Anne said, will allow BadmintonScotland’s programmes to continue up and down the country.
‘Bank of Scotland’s help also allows us to stage national championships from under 11 to under 23 level. They’re involved with international championships, and that attracts players from 30 nations, so it touches every aspect of the sport.’
Meanwhile, a new report says Glasgow is on course for increased sports participation and performance in the lead-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The Glasgow 2014 Sports Development Legacy report focuses on achievements in athletics, badminton, cycling, disability swimming, hockey, rugby union, swimming, table tennis and netball.
The city’s commitment to coach education and mentoring, hosting international events and creating links between schools and sports clubs to increase participation are also outlined.
The report found that 112 partnerships have been formed between schools and sports clubs. These partnerships cover athletics, rugby, hockey, badminton, netball, tennis and golf.
It said that more than 500 young Glasgwegians per week are regularly playing table tennis, with 17 primary schools and six secondary schools signed up for a Glasgow City Cup.
A rugby union coaching programme has now been extended to the East End, with 60 primary and 15 secondary schools taking part city-wide.
More than 3,000 schoolchildren took part in a badminton festival as part of the International Badminton Championships, while four secondary and 12 primary schools are also receiving cycling coaching.
Open a 2010 diary at June 25 and there’s every chance it’ll look like an unremarkable day. It’s around the time that Glasgow schools break for the summer, when suitcases and backpacks are looked out for the holidays, pounds are changed into euros or dollars and the focus of the working day blurs a little in anticipation of the big getaway.
That date does not seem to spring from the pages of school text books, yet it is as much a date to remember as September 3, June 6 or May 8. However, next year there will be no bloody but reverential big screen movies and few documentaries full of black-and-white images and white-haired old men remembering their youth.
On that day, June 25, in 1950, the Korean War broke out, and its 60th anniversary will pass most of us by.
At that time of remembrance, British veterans of the Korean War will pause and think of the countless numbers of soldiers who never returned home from wars that have spanned nearly a century. They will think of the civilian dead. They will wear their poppies and fall silent as bells toll at 11am.
Strange then, that as Remembrance Sunday comes around again, the stories of those who served in Korea and the 1100 British servicemen who died in the conflict, are written so small by history.
It is as if the focus moves through the First and Second World Wars then snaps up to date, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and everything in between blurs.
Danny Thompson, then aged 18 and from Garngad, was called for National Service in the late summer of 1950. He served in Korea with a mortar platoon in B Company of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and has a theory as to why that conflict has been dubbed ‘the Forgotten War’ by many historians.
‘I think it’s forgotten because it was led by the United Nations,’ he said. ‘If it had been Britain in Korea it would be different … because it was UN maybe it tends to get overlooked.’
Now 77 and living in Bishopbriggs, Danny became a member of the British Korean Veterans Association (BKVA) two years ago. Its focus is to keep the Korean War family together, educate the young and honour the memory of the lost 1100.
There is a Scottish Korean War Memorial at Witchcraig, Beecraigs Country Park, near Linlithgow. The site is planted with 110 Scottish and Korean trees – one for every 100 fatalities – and the centrepiece is a splendid pagoda.
The landscape, said Danny, reminds him of that far-off country where 45,000 Britons went to fight under a UN flag as North Korean and Chinese forces swept into South Korea and towards Seoul. Britain was one of more than a dozen countries to send troops to Korea.
As a young soldier, a conscript, Danny did not harbour any strong views on the conflict. ‘I didn’t really give it a thought. Your concern was for yourself and the guys beside you,’ he said. ‘All we knew was that we had to stop the Chinese and the North Koreans or Communism would have taken over … that’s why the Americans threw so much money into Japan.’
By the summer of 1951, he was in the line south of the 38th Parallel – the line of latitude that divided the country after the Second World War – where Commonwealth troops were determined to prevent the Communist advance across hills overlooking the Imjin River. The reality of war soon came calling.
‘We did a company patrol, what they call a feeler patrol across the Imjin. The Chinese must have been watching us all the way … we got to this place and they stonked us with mortars and one of our lads was killed.’
Danny recalled seeing Chinese and North Korean prisoners of war and was struck by the depths of their hostility towards their UN captors: ‘They were only boys, some about 16, they were spitting on us as they passed … they were fanatical.’
While Danny talks fondly of those days on the line and in reserve, when he got to enjoy a guitar he had taken with him, he and KOSB veterans everywhere clearly hold the bravery of Private Bill Speakman in the face of a Chinese advance on Hill 217 in November 1951 in the highest regard.
Speakman, a Cheshire-born regular soldier from the Black Watch who was attached to the KOSB, and half a dozen others played a critical part in hampering a Chinese attack on Hill 217 to allow a safe withdrawal from the ridge. Outnumbered and in danger of seeing the left of his company’s position collapse before waves of attacking enemy troops, Speakman repeatedly led charges, stalling the opposition long enough for a complete evacuation.
By the time Speakman ran out of grenades, he started throwing beer bottles. His initiative and bravery were recognised by a Victoria Cross. The first to be awarded by Queen Elizabeth II, it is on display in Edinburgh Castle.
As Danny, whose platoon fired more than 4,500 rounds in that engagement, said of coming under fire: ‘You just don’t think, you just did your job.’
On this Remembrance Sunday, as on many others, he’ll be watching the broadcast from the Cenotaph. His message to the public is a simple one: ‘Buy poppies, help the veterans and remember. What else can you do?’
He added: ‘To me it really does matter. Most people buy poppies so it must mean something.’
The United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea, where more than 800 British servicemen are buried, is appealing for photographs of those interred there and those who died but have no known grave.
James Grundy, who works voluntarily on the cemetery’s behalf, said: ‘These photographs will be attached to their records and also displayed in the cemetery hall of remembrance.
‘The following names are just a few of the young men from the Glasgow area who gave their lives in Korea. Private Thomas M Sinclair; Pte Alastair Annan; Sergeant James T Anderson; Fusilier Calder Mills; Pte Robert Devennie; Lieutenant Robert C Hunter RN; Sapper Charles L Wylie; Pte William Smith; Leading Stoker James W Addison RN; Rifleman Thomas Wright; Rfn Thomas Brannan; Pte Robert McKendrick.’
James Grundy can be contacted at 102 College Croft, Eccles, Greater Manchester, M30 0AN. Telephone 0161 789 7633.
The BKVA can be contacted at Brian Hough, National Recruitment Officer BKVA, 116 Fields Farm Rd, Hattersley, Hyde, Cheshire, SK14 3NP. Please enclosed stamped, addressed envelope with correspondence.
Glasgow is looking beyond the recession and equipping young workers with new skills to build a stronger economy, the 12th annual State of the City Economy Conference heard.
Lauding the Commonwealth Apprenticeship Initiative and renewing the city’s commitment to it, Council Leader Steven Purcell said the city was preparing for an economic upturn by building the pool of skilled labour.
More than 1000 qualified school leavers who applied to the scheme launched in March 2008, are in apprenticeships or on a National Progression Award that will lead to an apprenticeship.
The scheme is aimed at equipping the city with the talent to turn the 2014 Commonwealth Games blueprint into reality.
‘I don’t know how long this recession will last, but I do know that at some point we will come out of it and when that happens, we must ensure that Glasgow comes out of it stronger than when we went in,’ Mr Purcell said.
In a bullish address to delegates at the Radisson Hotel on Argyle Street, the Council Leader cited 1,300 new jobs in the nearby financial district, retail expansion in the St Enoch’s Centre and a planned expansion for Buchanan Galleries as evidence of Glasgow’s resilience.
Hotel occupancy rates have risen to 81% over the past two years, he added, with additional room space to come.
The volume of private sector planning permissions granted in 2008-09, suggests that developers continue to have faith in the city’s potential, he said.
Glasgow has taken another big step on the road to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 with the £18m refurbishment of Scotstoun Stadium.
UK Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe joined Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy during a visit to the stadium, with its nearby sports centre, where they saw a world-class facility offering what promises to be a strong foundation for up-and-coming generations of Scottish athletes.
Scotstoun will also serve as a hub for rugby excellence. The Glasgow Warriors will use the ground as their training facilities from 2010 thanks to a partnership between the Scottish Rugby Union, Glasgow City Council and Culture and Sport Glasgow.
The stadium’s capacity will increase to 5,000 and Scotstoun will bid for high-profile athletic events. As well as a refurbished track and field, there is a full-length, indoor warm-up track, and top-class conditioning suites. The facility won £4m in funding from Sportscotland, with the remaining £14m funded by Glasgow City Council.
After a display of running on the indoor warm-up track from young athletes of Glasgow School of Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe said: ‘We’ve been looking all around the UK to ensure that new sports facilities are indeed world class, and this clearly is one. The indoor track is probably the best I’ve seen in the UK and facilities like this, which allow training to go on indoors regardless of the weather, are something the city should be proud of. It all augurs well for 2014.’
Jim Murphy was equally impressed. ‘I think it’s phenomenal, a Rolls-Royce facility and the stars of today would be happy to use it. Outdoors, that new track they’ve taken ownership of today lasts 15 years so it’s the best, most-modern track anywhere … it’s a great location for records to be broken.’
Looking ahead to 2014, Jim added: ‘In the build-up to the games there’ll be a buzz which will be fantastic, but it’s also important that there be a legacy.
‘The Commonwealth Games will last a matter of days, but the effects will be felt for decades, lighting a spark of enthusiasm amongst Glaswegians – and Scots – for athletics and other sports. It’ll mean a great legacy for facilities and for a lifelong attitude towards sports.
‘Usain Bolt is a name that so many youngsters now recognise,’ said Jim. ‘They wonder at his ability, he’s a modern icon. The important thing is for us to grow our own icons.’