Sport-for-all policy shines through in Hayward Heath RFC’s latest plan

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Staying true to its vision to deliver a multi-sport proposition at the new HHRFC Clubhouse and ensure that the Whitemans Green facility will be commercially sustainable, a new planning application has been submitted to enhance the sporting activities available for all at Whitemans Green.

Plans to build three padel courts with canopies to enable all year round play and a 170m² gym - incorporating an outdoor terrace on the roof of the gym overlooking the padel courts and rugby pitches – is currently under consideration by Mid Sussex District Council with the new facilities available for use by all members of the Club and the local community.

The Mid Sussex Padel Club at Whitemans Green is going to be fully funded following a partnership between Haywards Heath Rugby Football Club and Smash Padel in a collaboration that will provide an exhilarating and fun new social and sporting experience for padel players of all levels – from beginners through to advanced elite participants.

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Padel is a great way to get fit and improve mental and physical wellbeing while making new friends and having fun. It is suitable for children and adults of all ages, boys and girls, men and women, and is currently the fastest growing sport in the UK. With its original roots in Mexico and already highly popular across Europe, padel combines techniques from both tennis and squash but is a racket game in its own right with no previous experience of either sport necessary to take part. Everyone who picks up a racket for the first time is able to enjoy playing immediately.

The solar panels on the roof demonstrate the focus on sustainability - environmentally and commerciallyThe solar panels on the roof demonstrate the focus on sustainability - environmentally and commercially
The solar panels on the roof demonstrate the focus on sustainability - environmentally and commercially

HHRFC has chosen this partnership since Smash Padel is based on the same inclusive, community-driven principles as rugby, and is an organisation that is led by a team that have a first-hand understanding of how a community rugby club works and what makes it special. In fact eight Scottish rugby players including Adam Hastings, Richie Gray and Blair Kinghorn are among 15 new investors supporting the UK-wide expansion of Smash Padel, which already has plans for clubs in Whitstable and Cardiff adding to its very first location at Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa in Oxfordshire.

It was this mutual respect for the rugby philosophy of TREDS – teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship – that made the decision to create a shared padel vision at Whitemans Green relatively straightforward for HHRFC, once a commercial agreement had been reached.

Commenting on this latest development, Phil Herbert, Commercial Director at HHRFC said “Now that the build project is fully funded thanks to the funding secured from numerous grant sources this year, including the Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust, the Grundfos Foundation and the Community Ownership Fund, we are concentrating on making sure that the long term commercial viability of the new Clubhouse is secure and believe the padel courts and gym extension provide multiple reasons for people to visit Whitemans Green more often and make use of the amazing Clubhouse that is already emerging for all to see.

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"We want to make this a multi-sport hub to benefit the health and wellbeing of the whole community and we are delighted that clubs such as Haywards Heath Harriers and Sussex Thunder have already committed to collaborating in using the new facility. We hope that other local sports clubs will decide to follow suit and look forward to making Whitemans Green the focal point for multi-sport activities across Mid Sussex.”

The stunning new Clubhouse at Whitemans Green is fast emergingThe stunning new Clubhouse at Whitemans Green is fast emerging
The stunning new Clubhouse at Whitemans Green is fast emerging

Carson Russell, Operations Director at Smash Padel added, “As soon as we met the team driving the development of the HHRFC Clubhouse and understood their rationale for wanting to include padel as part of their future plans, we recognised that together we could deliver an immensely strong padel proposition at an affordable price point, providing a bespoke junior programme and dedicated coaches for all levels of play, especially beginners who want to try the game for the first time.

"We are delighted to be working together and recognise the excellent work HHRFC has already done in building such a fantastic new multi-sport Clubhouse at Whitemans Green. We are excited at the prospect of converting a whole new generation of padel players in Mid Sussex and spreading the word about the social and wellbeing benefits of the game.”

The proposal is to develop three canopied padel courts and a gym alongside the new Clubhouse, designed to complement the surrounding landscape and maximise the use of the dedicated sporting fields at Whitemans Green.

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The continued focus on sustainability – environmentally through the installation of solar panels and EV charging points, socially through its inclusive ambitions for the local community and commercially with the multi-sport facilities high on the agenda – show how determined the HHRFC Clubhouse Team are to deliver a long term community asset for Mid Sussex and beyond. Both the Clubhouse and the padel courts are planned to open late Autumn 2024.

The Club is asking the local community to register its support for this amazing new multi-sports facility by logging on to the MSDC planning portal and registering support for application DM/24/0832 before 24 May 2024.

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