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Howzat! Former England cricketer Alastair Cook and English sporting stars open UCS Hampstead's new sports centre

PUBLISHED: 13:32 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:35 11 October 2019

UCS' Head of Sport Ed Sawtell alongside Harry Martin, Jodie Gibson, Sir Alastair Cook, Maddie Hinch MBE, Gray Leisure's Richard Gray and Alex Goode open the new sports centre. Picture: UCS Hampstead

UCS' Head of Sport Ed Sawtell alongside Harry Martin, Jodie Gibson, Sir Alastair Cook, Maddie Hinch MBE, Gray Leisure's Richard Gray and Alex Goode open the new sports centre. Picture: UCS Hampstead

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England's all-time leading run scorer Sir Alastair Cook helped UCS Hampstead push the boundaries with its new sports centre as he joined a star lineup opening the 27-acre site.

Jodie Gibson with the UCS Hampstead Netball team. Picture: UCS HampsteadJodie Gibson with the UCS Hampstead Netball team. Picture: UCS Hampstead

England netballer Jodie Gibson and hockey internationals Harry Martin and Maddie Hinch were among the guests, while England and Arsenal footballer Faye White and rugby star Alex Goode completed the squad.

The new playing fields hosted a series of sporting masterclasses on September 29 to christen the facility. Sir Alastair spent time in the nets and delivered some words of wisdom to members of the school's first team and its under-15 side.

He told them to work as hard as they could, and said it was "hard graft" that meant he was able to become England's leading run-scorer.

On the netball courts Ms Gibson put the sixth form squad through its paces and shared her experienes of winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

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The Kantor Centre, named after Dr Moshi Kantor, whose donation enabled the development to take place, also saw Mr Martin and Ms Hinch oversee a match between UCS and Hampstead and Westminster. Hockey player Ms Martin won gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and said some of the pupils were overawed.

She said: "They were great but I can't believe how quiet they were."

The Kantor Centre was officially opened at lunchtime by Sir Alastair, the school's headteacher Mark Beard, chair of governors Simon Lewis and Dr Kantor. Dr Kantor said: "Throughout this IT revolution, it is essential that young people learn the value of team spirit and friendship through sport." Head Mark Beard said: "Involvement in sport is hugely important for children in both their health and personal development: shared-vision and teamwork; collaboration and commitment; grit and determination; grace in victory; picking yourself back up in the face of defeat.

"Such qualities are what we seek to develop in our young people, to equip them for the society they join when they leave school, to help them be civilised human beings. We are delighted to open these spectacular facilities, which will be enjoyed by the 1,400 children across the UCS Foundation and children in our partner schools."

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