BLACKBURN College are shooting for the stars with three Centre of Excellence’s which will be based at their new £13.5m sports centre.

The state-of-the-art sports complex, which the College have built in conjunction with Blackburn Council, will contain two sports halls, an 80-station fitness centre, swimming and re-hab pool and Sports Science Performance and Testing Laboratory.

And it will be ready to produce the sports stars of the future with a football, netball and basketball Centre of Excellence.

The Football Centre of Excellence will be run by Andrew Smith, an ex-footballer who has played for Preston and Luton and has coached at Manchester City Academy, Bury, Blackburn and Accrington Stanley.

Smith is on the coaching team at semi-professional side AFC Darwen.

Blackburn College have linked up with AFC Darwen and students will get the chance to play for them as well as in the British College League, while studying.

The Netball Centre of Excellence will be run by former Lancashire County netballer Stephanie Wignall, who has coached professionally for five years. They have a link up with West Pennine Netball Club.

Meanwhile, former National Basketball League player Danny Byrne will run the Basketball Centre of Excellence and will oversee their link with Blackburn Phoenix.

All students can be part of a Centre of Excellence regardless of what they are studying.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for students to excel at their chosen sports,” said Damian Stewart, Curriculum Manager for Sport.

“They will have the best the borough has to offer in terms of up-to-date sports facilities and structured sessions including player development, physiotherapy and progression while taking part in training and competitions.”

There are trials for the Centre of Excellences.

Contact Matthew Hinchley at or call 01254 292408