National Football Centre

October 6, 2012




Ken Masters

IT HAS GONE QUITE UNNOTICED IN THE PRESS AND MEDIA AS FAR AS I CAN TELL BUT IT IS LESS THAN A COUPLE OF MONTHS SINCE THE OPENING OF ST. GEORGE’S PARK, THE NEW NATIONAL FOOTBALL CENTRE, AT BURTON UPON TRENT. The only real information I could find about the centre, what it does, and what it looks like, was on the official Football Association Web site.

The centre hosted its first UEFA ‘B’ Licence just a few weeks ago and, since its opening, St Georges Park has earned plaudits from across the sport for the quality of its facilities as well as the hope that it has injected into the future of English football. But while many will be excitedly looking ahead to the potential of England’s future playing generations, for UEFA Course Director Andy Poole the National Football Centre is, instead, already beginning to deliver on the philosophy behind its creation: being an inspirational centre for coach education.

“The whole environment is fantastic. We talk about developing players but this environment is hopefully conducive to develop coaches.”

Yes we do talk about developing players Andy, playing and watching the game is what it is all about but we do hear what you are saying about coaches. Top Man Roy Hodgson says he hopes to play a part at St. George’s Park and help The FA develop more technically gifted players. After 36 years as a coach, Hodgson knows more that most about the differences between managing club and country. Roy accepts that time on the training pitch is limited, but is looking to get involved at the new Centre in Burton. While St, George’s Park becomes the training base for all 24 England teams, it is also the home to The FA’s educational arm, FA Learning. where a new breed of coaches will be developed with the ‘Future Game’ philosophy at its heart.

“The ultimate aim is to produce more players with greater technical ability and decision making skills, something that will benefit the England team in years to come.”

Like winning the World Cup again then Roy, we do hope so but we will probably have to do it overseas next time; the hopes of getting the World Cup finals in Britain ever again looks pretty slim to me. These days it seems you need plenty of money, no previous experience in football and intense heat for what is otherwise a winter sport in most parts.

“A national team job brings with it a number of responsibilities. The thing we enjoy most is the contact with the players, being on the training field and coaching players,” Hodgson told an audience of Club Wembley members. “Because Ray Lewington (Hodgson’s assistant) and myself are both coaching orientated it will be difficult for us not to want to play a bigger part in St. George’s Park and what’s going on there.” Hodgson added: “We’ve got to be aware that there is work to be done. A lot of it will have to start with coaching at lower levels. We need to look at what we are asking our coaches to do.”

Well it certainly looks like St. George’s is the place to do it. Ask Former Rovers favourite Keith Curle, now manager at Notts County.

The FA site reports that Notts County and St George’s Park National Football Centre have come to an agreement that will see Keith Curie’s squad train at the state of the art facility over the next 12 months. Lucky old Keith! The Magpies will still have access to their existing Highfields training facility, which will be put to use the day before matches and when the Three Lions are preparing for an international fixture. Keith feels that the move will only prove to be beneficial to his squad.

“If you have a look at the overall playing surface and the atmosphere of the place, I think it’s pretty obvious why we’re training here. It’s a fantastic, consistent training surface for us to play on, a professional environment and it’s absolutely unbelievable that we’re able to come here.”

Certainly sounds it, Keith, and good luck to you but as St. George’s gets busier which surely it is intended to do, after all it is a National Football Centre, you might just have to go back to Highfields on a more permanent basis again; I suspect.

After all, the philosophy behind its creation again: being an inspirational centre for coach education. Not as a training ground for nearby professional football clubs then. Don’t think I’m being cynical or even jealous; just try to get my head around what St, George’s has actually been built for.



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