As well as being the home for all 24 England teams, St. George’s Park is an open and accessible national football centre.
Far from being a haven reserved for the elite, the complex offers opportunities for grassroots players to enjoy and benefit from the centre's first-class facilities.
St. George's Park is fully committed to developing links with the local and wider community, and as part of that on-going commitment welcomed The FA Tesco Skills Programme’s half-term sessions.
FA Tesco Skills Team Leader Jenna Martin explained: “The role of the Tesco Skills half-term sessions is to bring 5-11-year-old players in [during half term] for either their first experience of football or for some more football coaching depending upon their level.
“Hopefully it is a fun experience and, moving on, we will look at the development of the player as a whole. We will look at not only their football skills but also their social skills while they are here.”
The programme is an open-access initiative that encourages boys and girls as well as children with disabilities to enjoy football in a welcoming and inclusive environment.
Martin added: “We have a range of abilities and a range of ages here, plus children with disabilities. Our session allows them all to interact and play together as part of an open-access course.
“I think it is really important for kids to get that passion for football by being able to train on facilities such as these that are so much better than those they are normally going to train and play on.”
Such a focus on inclusion has proved especially important for foster parents Kerry Beard and Heidi Maudsley, who explained how the programme offered their children much more than simply developing their football skills.
Maudsley said: “Social skills - that is a big one for us.
“I have an autistic child and a child with dyspraxia, which means they have all got different needs but this programme brings them all together.”
Similarly, the regular contact with the coaches that the programme maintains has proven a major benefit.
Beard said: “The coaches are very patient with them. The children have got to know their coaches because they are the same coaches every time and that is important for us."
The half-term sessions at St. George’s Park have proven to be hugely popular, with the national football centre helping to attract high levels of interest.
Martin added: “St. George’s Park is a massive draw for the players.
“The parents want to see it and the players want to train where the England players train, so our holiday courses at St. George’s Park get the biggest numbers across the county.
“And to train on the best facilities in England is obviously a massive benefit for the children.
"We have a lot of parents that bring them from across the county and some that were here on Monday have come back for another session.
“So it is also a good opportunity for them to spend a couple of hours dong exercise in their half-term.”
The FA Tesco Skills is a unique football coaching programme that gives 5-11s of all abilities the opportunity to get active, learn new football skills and enjoy the game.
It provides after-school football coaching, holiday football coaching and also work within primary schools providing specialist football coaching.
To find out more about The FA Tesco Skills programme as well as where to find a Skills Session near you, click here.