LIT Tipperary set to become a centre of excellence in strength and conditioning with high tech €3.7million facility.
Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government, Alan Kelly has launched the €3.7million Sportslab for LIT Tipperary. The new centre at the Thurles campus is set to become an international centre of excellence in sports strength and conditioning.
Through a combination of high-tech equipment and lecture staff expertise, the facility will be the most elite centre in Ireland for sports strength and conditioning, catering for 500 under and post graduate students each year.
Launching the facility, Minister Kelly said, “In the strictest sense, sport really is big business today and strength and conditioning has become hugely important in terms of preparation and injury risk assessment and recovery. It is opening up a range of new employment opportunities and the standard of training/education here, not least arising from the expertise of the lecturers, will see 100 plus students each year emerging from these courses with real employment prospects here in Ireland and internationally.
The facilities and the expertise in the Sportslab will also be used by domestic and international athletes from all sports to help achieve optimum levels of strength and condition and ensure maximum performance. One of the key benefits arising from the programmes will be injury minimisation and, where appropriate, faster recovery.
“Another key plus here is the ‘sport tourism’ potential of the facility, with domestic and international teams coming to the town to take advantage of the high tech facilities here.
“LIT has shown great foresight and vision in developing this facility over the past number of years. Thurles is Ireland’s most historic sporting town given that the GAA was founded here and to a large degree we have probably failed to really capitalise on that here in Tipperary. However, today, over 130 years since the GAA was founded in nearby Hayes’ Hotel, LIT is leading the charge again for Thurles by creating this international standard facility.”
The 3D ‘marker-less’ Motion Capture System is one of the key components of the facility as it is the only unit of its kind in the country and among the most advanced in the world. The unit tracks athlete’s motion to pin point technique issues and identify also injury risks.
In addition to LIT’s 14 elite strength and conditioning lectures, Setanta College, an international specialist in coaching courses, is an LIT partner at the centre, from where it will deliver online courses and bring its considered international expertise to the facility also.
Students have the option of the four-year, Level 8 Bachelor of Science in Sports Strength and Conditioning course, while there is also a Level 9 Masters progamme and an online Level 9 Masters for international students. The first batch of students, 22 in all, will graduate with their Level 8 degree in the autumn, with the growth in popularity of the course reflected in the numbers set to begin their degree in September when 100 students will join the campus.
The Masters programmes are also proving hugely successful, with 45 students currently undertaking the two-year course, among them an English Premier League club strength and conditioning coach, former rugby international Marcus Horan and others from as far afield as Australia and the US. Each of the international students is required to spend one week on campus, with 22 due to arrive for their practical element in June.
Said Padraig Harrington, a Setanta College ambassador, “When the guys in Setanta told me of LIT’s intention to develop this facility I instantly recognised that they were onto something really exciting. Sport is all about preparation and strength and conditioning is absolutely essential for people who want active and competitive participation in sport, whether that’s professional or amateur, young or old.
“The Sportslab is not alone going to turn out expert strength and conditioning coaches but also, no doubt, become a destination for athletes and teams from across Ireland and the world as they seek an edge in preparation and, ultimately, performance.”
Said LIT President Dr Maria Hinfelaar, “This is another exciting day for us at LIT and in keeping with our on-going programme of expansion and investment across all our campus. The Sportslab is also in keeping with the proud sporting history of Thurles and that was very much part of the inspiration of this when we started out. Our team here looked at what opportunity we had to capture the essence and tradition of sport in Thurles and develop a career opportunity out of that for students. This is the outcome and I have every confidence it is going to make a huge contribution to sport in Ireland.
“When we came on board here in 2011 there were already a significant number of students on campus and this will bring total numbers here to 1,000, which will contribute handsomely to the economy of Thurles. We have had many people who helped us along the way with this cutting edge facility, including Minister Kelly with his assistance with a capital grant for equipment last year. We look forward to growing the reputation of this facility and attracting students from across the country and internationally in the years ahead.”