A CENTRE for sporting excellence is being developed at The Stourport High School and VIth Form College with the addition of post-16 basketball alongside its established ACE rugby programme.

The school is also in talks with England Hockey to develop a national-standard programme and is hoping to offer netball and other sports to an elite level.

Six formers from as far afield as Birmingham, Worcester and Kinver have joined Stourport students in the inaugural basketball programme and played their first competitive game in the national league against top team City of Leeds Basketball Academy last week.

School principal Sara Peace said: “They were winning after the first quarter and played so well, losing by 10 points in the end but showed huge potential and great character.

“It was so exciting and I’m sure these players – and the programme – will go from strength to strength.”

Students have five hours of coaching a week as part of their timetable with teacher and coach Sam Coles, plus after-school coaching and games around the country.

Mrs Peace said: “Their academic studies are as equally important, which they understand, and they all work hard.

“Sport helps build resilience, confidence and these students are full of drive to want to succeed.”

The school’s rugby programme, now in its sixth year, boasts 52 students and is affiliated to the RFU Midlands West Academy. It is run by a team of coaches led by level 3 coach Richard Phillips and has produced many players now playing at a high level, including in the English premiership and Super BUCS (the highest university division).

Hundreds of students attend extra-curricular clubs at the school, which has recently secured a £10,000 grant to develop trampolining, girls’ football and hockey in the lower years.

The school’s facilities include the national standard basketball arena, indoor cricket nets, artificial grass pitches, a new 4G rugby pitch nearing completion, a fitness gym and access to a netball dome, athletics track and a velo track.