SPORTS superstars have supported a new £2.5m youth centre which has finally been brought to life after a decade-long battle.
The U-Mix community centre is built into a hillside in Lowfield and boasts floodlit five-a-side pitches, a dance studio, music rehearsal space plus a recording studio.
It was first thought of 11 years ago but was hit by funding problems caused by the recession.
Sheffield heptathlete Jessica Ennis and Spurs player Kyle Walker have sent messages of support to the centre leaders at Football Unites Racism Divides, while both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday stars attended its opening.
The charity will use the centre to develop its sporting and youth work programme, as well as to continue stamping out racism through the beautiful game.
Simon Hyacinth, joint co-ordinator at FURD, said: “We think the centre can help change lives and change perceptions as well.
“It will bring people together in positive ways, break down barriers and sterotypes - it has a massive role to play.
“We’ve had good luck messages from Jess Ennis and her parents attended the opening as did family members of Kyle Walker.
“Hopefully we can get them involved in the future.”
The centre is virtually invisible from Bramall Lane, which runs alongside it.
Young people from the area formed a steering group called Urban Mixtures to ensure the centre met their needs andwere instrumental in its design.
Amjid Hafiz, 24, of Sharrow, said: “I’ve been involved with FURD since I was 16 and was part of the U-Mix project.
“Over the years I have learned lots of different skills and training which has helped me face a lot of issues as you are growing up - it’s made me the man I am today.
“I would have been really lucky if I had had a place like this to come to when I was young.”
The centre is run on behalf of Sheffield Council, which supported the prokect.
It also includes a digital suite, prayer room, and the Arthur Wharton Archive, a fascinating resource dedicated to Britain’s first black professional footballer.
Grants from the Football Foundation, the Government’s Myplace initiative and Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA helped build it.