I was delighted to learn this morning of the announcement by the Rugby Football League that Leigh Sports Village will host a game and act as a training base during the Rugby League World Cup in 2013.
The decision by the sport’s governing body marks a 10 year campaign by me and others starting with the concept that blossomed into Leigh Sports Village.
This latest announcement is yet another landmark in the development of Leigh as a major sporting destination in the North West:
∙ First ever international in 2010 as England played France
∙ Hosted England v Wales in the 2011 Four Nations
∙ and the Olympic torch relay will come to the Leigh area
This is fantastic news for Leigh and is a measure of just how far our town has come. Ten years ago we could only dream about hosting a major international sporting event. Today, with this decision, our town is firmly established on the country's sporting map.
The next two years promise to be an exciting time for sport in Leigh. In just a few months time, the Olympic Torch will travel through our area as we get ready for London 2012. Then, in 2013, the RL World Cup comes to Leigh. It will be an unforgettable year and an inspirational time for all young Leythers.
I would like to thank the RFL for putting its trust in Leigh as well as congratulating Wigan Council on the strength of its successful bid. I am particularly pleased that the LSV will be a training venue and will now work with my good friend Trevor Barton to bring one of the sport's biggest names to Leigh.
Leigh today is a centre of sporting excellence. We don't just have world-class facilities but are also lucky to have a network of outstanding amateur sports clubs. Leigh's strong sporting infrastructure has been built up by the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who do so much to give opportunities our young people. They know who they are and I am grateful to each and every one of them. They have done so much to build sport in Leigh and I hope they will see Leigh's arrival on the international sporting map as recognition of their efforts.