Stars of the sporting world descended on a North East university to take on students on the dodgeball court.
Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, Ashes-winning cricketer Stuart Broad and Durham cricketing legend Steve Harmison were among the sports stars at Newcastle University yesterday for the dodgeball matches to celebrate the start of a unique partnership between the university and sportswear firm Adidas.
Hepathlete Jessica cheered from the sidelines due to injury and watched as students took on their sporting heroes.
“It’s been a really fun day and I really enjoyed it,” said Jessica.
“I am still getting there with my injury but it was really good fun watching everyone getting into the feel of it.”
The partnership between Newcastle University and Adidas is the first of its kind in the UK and is designed to give two gifted sporting students scholarships and Adidas kit.
It also provides funding to improve coaching and support the student Athletics Union.
Highlighting the importance of the partnership, Jessica said: “I think it is just great. When I was at university I did not have an opportunity like this to have Adidas involved.”
She added: “I think there’s going to be a lot of different ways Adidas are going to get involved, different kinds of opportunities within teams and for every sport.”
Making his debut on the dodgeball court, cricketer Stuart Broad said it had been great fun going up against the students. He also added that partnerships like this were important for young athletes.
“I have been very fortunate in that I have been with Adidas my career and they have helped me a lot to reach the level I play at,” he said.
“For Newcastle University to have this partnership is great for both brands,” he added.
Also advocating the opportunity was Ashington-born cricketer Steve Harmison. He said: “It’s very very difficult for people to get to the next level, but if they have support from big brands it becomes far easier.”
Steve added: “It’s been a great day and it is always good to see young people smiling and getting involved.”
Fraser Kennedy, performance sports manager at Newcastle University, said: “This is the first partnership of its kind where such a big global sports brand has come on board with higher education, it is unique.”
Mr Kennedy said the partnership is initially set for two years, including two scholarships and funding to improve coaching and support the student Athletics Union at Newcastle University.
“It is a partnership that can help everyone in the university,” he added.