Brooksby Melton College is helping rugby league gain a foothold in the borough after signing a new partnership with Leicester Storm.
The borough is a union stronghold, with Leicester Tigers at its heart, but the club is hoping to establish its summer counterpart in the county with the help of the college’s new £3.65 million sports facility.
Storm will play their home matches at Brooksby when the Conference League South season kicks off on Saturday, April 11 against Gloucestershire Warriors.
The college will also give them use of their new indoor sports hall, access to their sports science equipment and performance analysis software, and use of the new all-weather 3G pitch for training.
Leicester Storm chairman Ty Watson said: “The facilities at Brooksby Melton College are amazing and it brings to an end a long search for a place the Storm can call home.
“Immediately, this move puts us right up there with the professional clubs in terms of facilities.
“We’re not here to compete against rugby union or anything like that; we’re here to offer an alternative during the summer months.
“Brooksby Melton College can become the home of rugby league in Leicestershire and somewhere we can grow the game from youth level up.”
Brooksby’s students will also benefit from the partnership with access to high level rugby league coaching, and the college is set to introduce a rugby league academy.
Plans are also in the offing to establish rugby league clubs across the county and form the Leicester Rugby League Association to allow talented players to remain within the game post-studies.
Assistant principal at Brooksby Melton College, Mark Bendle, added: “We were bowled over by Ty’s enthusiasm and vision.
“He came in and talked through how he saw the game developing, in addition to Storm’s ambitions of becoming a professional club, and we felt it fitted in with where we wanted to go in developing a reputation for sporting excellence.
“For us, hosting games is very exciting. I think rugby league is in itself an exciting game; it’s a fast-moving sport and in some ways it has different skill sets to those of rugby union.
“I think there’s a real future for it in Leicestershire and I can see it appealing to young players in particular.
“Sport is a growing area, so we’re hoping the option to study sport here with a rugby league academy beside it will only increase the number of sports students we have.”