As we prepare to bring 2021 to a close, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what has been a fantastic year at St. George’s Park, as the home of England’s teams played host to elite performers and coaches from across world sport.
The headline activity at St. George’s Park took place during the course of the summer, as England hosted UEFA Euro 2020 – albeit a year later. Throughout the tournament, St. George’s Park provided the base for Gareth Southgate and his England senior players and staff, as the Three Lions finished as runner’s up.
However, whilst St. George’s Park is renowned as the home of England’s teams, it has provided a home to a range of sports bodies during 2021.
In January, GB Rowing utilised our state-of-the-art facilities for a three-week training camp, who praised the unique accessibility of St. George’s Park during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions still in place.
The following month, in the build-up to the Six Nations, Eddie Jones’ senior England side visited St. George’s Park for an intensive week-long training camp ahead of the tournament, with Jones again praising the brilliant measures in place during the coronavirus restrictions.
In March, GB Archery made St. George’s Park their home, as their elite archers enjoyed both the indoor and outdoor facilities available to them, highlighting the excellent opportunity presented by the venue when faced with the challenge of not being able to travel abroad.
Following a brief spell of England training camps later that month, St. George’s Park welcomed Boccia UK, who utilised the facilities to boost their preparations for the summer’s Paralympics. Boccia UK were able to make use of our indoor Futsal arena in May, which perfectly catered for the coaches’ and players’ needs.
Rugby returned to St. George’s Park in May, albeit this time in the form of Rugby 7s, as GB hosted the International Rugby 7s tournament between Great Britain, Ireland, USA and France.
Some well-known faces returned to St. George’s Park in June as the International Player to Coach programme kicked off. Former England players Wayne Rooney, Michael Dawson, Carlton Cole and Ashley Cole were among the inaugural cohort of learners on the programme, which aims to aid the transition of playing to coaching.
Come July, and the build-up to the new football season, many professional outfits utilised the first-class facilities and pitches to prepare for their respective campaigns. During a busy July, Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Portsmouth, MK Dons, Brentford, Southampton, Watford and Real Betis spent time training at the home of England’s teams.
July also saw St. George’s Park provide a venue for the Leaders Performance Institute’s High Performance Environments development day.
Later in the year, the British Equestrian Conference was hosted at St. George’s Park, as high-ranking individuals within the world of equestrian sport joined together to reflect, review and plan for a new year; whilst we also welcomed medical professionals for 2021-22’s FA Level 5 Advanced Trauma Medical Management in Football course.
In September St George’s Park also welcomed Sarina Wiegman in her role as England Senior Women’s Manager for the first time, as the Lionesses kicked off their unbeaten World Cup Qualifying campaign. An exciting year awaits the team in 2022 with a home Euros on the horizon.
The venue also fulfilled its role as the home of England Para teams with camps taking place throughout the year. 2021 ended with the England Blind Team, preparing for their competitive fixture versus Germany; and the England Cerebral Palsy squad, who welcomed 13-year-old Rhys to participate in their November camp. The young Fulham fan had received abuse online after posting a save on TikTok but channelled the negativity into some fantastic charity work.
As the home to England Football Learning, St. George’s Park hosted many coaching courses across the year, helping those involved in the game at all levels to develop and further their careers under expert guidance. The best-in-class facilities were the perfect backdrop for the Advanced Youth Award, Mentee Development Programme and Technical Director Level 5 participants - with more to follow into 2022 and beyond.
2021 drew to a close with a visit of GB Ultimate Frisbee in November, who once again used our world-class Futsal arena to host team trials, ahead of the team competing in Denmark in 2022, before St. George’s Park hosted the Premier League Truce Cup and training camps for England Rugby’s Under-18s and Under-20s sides in December.
It may have been another year of challenges for everybody involved in sport; however, for St. George’s Park, it’s been another year that has seen our reputation as one of the nation’s finest sporting venues and facilities grow ever stronger.