BRAND new sports facilities have been opened at a school.

Students and staff at the Harris Academy, in Ockendon, opened the new state-of-the-art sports hall on Friday.

Andre Nel, a former Essex and South African fast bowler, cut the ribbon at the ceremony, which saw the new hall, which features six courts unveiled.

The hall also features large changing facilities and office space, and is open to the public, alongside students and staff at the school, which also has a sixth form attached.

The facilities have been specifically designed to allow sports such as cricket, badminton, and basketball to be played.

Cricket is a sport at the top of the agenda for the Harris Academy, after the ECB, the England and Wales Cricket board, provided an £80,000 grant towards the project.

Ms Jo Rainey, the principal at the school, is delighted with the new build and thanked the ECB for their funding. She said: “It was fantastic to see our new sports hall officially open and to have cricketing legend André Nel join us for the occasion.

“Our students are so lucky to have this state-of-the-art facility which provides them with the space to grow their love of sport, build teamwork and develop healthier lifestyles.”

Aaron Watkins, councillor for the environment and sports and leisure, also expressed his gratitude towards the ECB. He added: “I’m delighted that pupils at Harris Academy are able to benefit from a brand new indoor sports hall where they will be able to get involved in and enjoy a range of sports, including cricket.

“The ECBs generous grant of £80,000 was made in consultation with Thurrock Council and Essex County Cricket Club, and will ensure that hundreds of junior cricketers have access to bespoke training facilities in the area.”