Staff at St. George’s Park, The FA’s national football centre, were joined by England captain Steven Gerrard today, to celebrate the centre’s first 12 months of operation; a year in which it has boasted impressive early signs of success.
Commenting on its first year of business operation, St. George’s Park Chairman, David Sheepshanks CBE said: “We have created a world class training centre of which the nation can be proud, however we all know that it is the end results that are most important and there is still much to be done.
“We have had a very encouraging first year with high levels of activity and new, enhanced coaching courses launched but this is just the start.
“This is a long term plan on which we are embarked on to positively affect coaching at all levels and age groups, for both the men’s and women’s games.
“With the fabulous hotels, facilities and sports medicine and high performance expertise all in one place, we want to develop a reputation for St. George’s Park as one of the best places in the world for coaches to come and learn the multi-disciplinary aspects of their trade in modern-day football.
“Another exciting aspect of our first year has been the way in which The FA staff and our operational partners on site at the Hilton hotel, Perform, the LMA and PFA have combined to create a focal point for football at St. George’s Park, with increasing interaction between many peer groups and stakeholders in the game as well as with other sports and business.”
Since its official launch by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in October 2012, England’s 24 teams have already visited the facility over 54 times in its inaugural year.
There has also been a benefit at the community and grassroots level of the game, with a near total of 250 teams having played football and utilised the facilities at St. George’s Park.
A multi-purpose facility at its heart, the use of St. George’s Park by other sports has also been vast, with the likes of the RFU, English Hockey and GB Basketball teams visiting the centre.
Home to the FA’s coach education arm, FA Learning, nearly 60 different courses have been delivered across football coaching, safeguarding, medical and refereeing, with over 1,000 licenced coaches attending coaching seminars and conferences across the year.
The St. George’s Park Chairman was also keen to re-iterate the need for St. George’s Park to maximise the potential of the facilities with the correct people in place. Sheepshanks said:
“The many students of the game will know that the big challenge going forward for our coaches is to be able to develop more home grown players with all the attributes needed to compete at the highest level in Premier League teams and who can most importantly win for England, and that is our aim.
“We have been delighted to welcome Dan Ashworth as Head of Elite Development to lead this charge.
“He has already made a number of important recruitments and changes to his own team and the arrival of people with the calibre and talent of the likes of Gareth Southgate and Dave Reddin are a clear statement of intent.
“Behind the scenes, operationally, Julie Harrington has also assembled a first class team to make the place tick and the first year’s financial results give us added confidence in our business model.”
The dedicated sports science and medical centre, run by Perform, part of Spire Healthcare, is designed to enhance high performance and improve self-development. Already in the last year it has delivered cardiac screenings to a near 270 players and in addition, a total of 814 physiotherapy sessions.
The impressive early figures released by The FA today, have also seen St. George’s Park on site Hilton and Hampton by Hilton hotel occupancy levels exceed over 70 per cent, with different sectors of the game coming together, be it for conferences, courses and seminars, with a total of 1,400 hosted across the year.