St.George’s Park, The FA’s new national football centre, is not only the home for England’s 24 national teams but also the wider football family, including The FA’s refereeing department.
Sixteen referees from around the world were at the £105 million facility this week attending The FA International Referee Instructors course.
Ian Blanchard, FA Senior National Game Referee Manager and course leader explained the importance of the new complex for the future of refereeing.
“This facility is fundamental. Fundamental not only from a coaches point of view but fundamental from a referee development point of view.
“We’ve never had a centre like this. We’ve always been here, there and everywhere. This enables us to develop a proper educational programme in fantastic facilities,” explained Blanchard.
The FA’s International Instructors course is the 21st of its kind, the first being held in 1974. With candidates travelling from all over the world to the Burton-upon-Trent site for the course, Blanchard believes the global appeal underlines the quality of the course.
He said: “They’ve come from all over the world, from as far afield as Bulgaria, Japan, Finland and Iceland.
“That’s international recognition that we provide a programme of training that no other national association does.”
“We have this fantastic facility where we can host them, we can educate them and they can hopefully develop their skills to take back to improve refereeing in their own country.”
Much of the publicity around the opening of the new 330-acre complex has focused on the impact the centre will have on coaching and coach education, but the centre also hopes to develop other aspects of the game such as sports science, medicine, leadership, mentoring as well as officiating. Other sports will also use the centre.
“It’s an absolutely incredible place where the whole emphasis is about learning and education,” added Blanchard.