As well as being the home for all 24 England national teams, St. George’s Park plays an active role in the local community in providing available facilities for local clubs to use.
To find out more about the centre’s community involvement, we spoke to Lee Brown who is St. George’s Park’s Community Development Manager.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the role of a Community Development Manager?
LB: I help to facilitate the section 106 agreement that exists within the planning document for the site, which dictates that we must provide community based facilities to local leagues.
That involves making three pitches available at weekends for the Burton Junior League, the local Sunday League, and Burton Albion Ladies.
We don’t charge any money for that. It actually comes at an expense in terms of the pitch management, but that is part of what we give back to the local community.
Q. What opportunities are available to community groups who are not covered by the section 106 agreement, such as local clubs and teams?
LB: If somebody wanted to come and hire one of the pitches here, whether that been an indoor pitch or one of the grass pitches or an outdoor synthetic, we have affordable community-based rates.
So, if you are a local club and you want to train here through the winter months under floodlights on an all-weather pitch and have changing rooms, toilets and some refreshments then the site is available for you.
But it's not just for those groups, if you are a local scout group or you are a local parish council and want to come for a kick about on a Friday night then you can hire it for a five-a-side game.
Q. How involved is St. George’s Park in supporting local community projects?
LB: Currently, we are doing some work with the local parish council, which is Tatenhill Parish council.
We are working with them alongside their local plans, such as a youth engagement meeting that we are hosting here.
This will involve inviting some local youths here, showing them round the site and finding out a bit more about what they want from the local area.
Whether that is coming to use a five-a-side pitch at St. George’s Park or whether it is coming for some learning opportunities at the site, we will work with them to find out more.
Q. What about people who may not enjoy football? How could the centre engage with them?
LB: There are things the centre can do. For example, with those who may feel football isn’t something they think is engaging, we look at alternatives.
One issue could be addressing concerns about the levels of traffic going through the villages and how we can help.
That could mean us inviting them to come here to hold a parish council meeting, and making sure they know that they can use it too.
We have to remember that these are the people who have given their permission for the site to be here.
So these people have to be consulted with and are important to us. They are our neighbours and we have to be good neighbours.
Q. So the centre is very conscientious about its social responsibility?
LB: Absolutely; we have to be good neighbours with the people who live around here.
It is not about us behaving like we are not bothered about them now that we are up and running or promoting things that don’t relate to them.
It is actually a case of how can we be good neighbours and how can we engage them with the site.
Q. As well as providing ample playing opportunities to the local community, are there options available to those wanting to get involved in football coaching?
LB: As well as working with local County FAs to host the lower level courses, such as the level one and level twos here, there is a focus on getting local people doing the basic courses.
So there are packages soon to be in place that are shaped to have a benefit to the coach and ensuring that there is a tangible benefit to them by bringing his or her team here.
When they come here for a session, yes the kids get to play a game but we give the coach something to go away with where they can assess how to be a better coach and what they can do in the future.
We want to look at the content of the packages we have in place now and shape them accordingly. That way we can meet the needs of, one, the coaches and players but also The FA’s vision of developing more and better coaches.