With the World Cup spotlight soon to shine on the beautiful game once again, we wanted to share a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into how St. George’s Park has come to life over the past 10 years, by the people who know it best.
Andy Savery, SGP General Manager (interim) and Head of Strategic Programmes, surmised exactly what everyone at SGP is striving towards: “SGP is more than just an amazing place – it is also a group of people and a shared ethos, united by an amazing passion and determination to change the fortune of English football for the better.”
On the origins of St. George’s Park, England Men’s Manager, Gareth Southgate, added: “The first few times I came here, we just had a couple of pitches open and a building site. It’s been amazing to see all the ideas and forethought come to life.”
Over the past 10 years, SGP has developed into the country’s finest football and sports facility, attested to by England Women’s Manager, Sarina Wiegman: “All the facilities are here to prepare, to train, to play football, and to recover. It is absolutely the best venue I’ve ever seen.”
Not only the home of England Football, St. George’s Park is also the hub for FA Education. That shared ethos of the betterment of English football remains the same however, as confirmed by Lucy Pearson, Director of FA Education: “We run a lot of courses from the site. But it’s really around high performance, and how do we give the players the best opportunity to win tournaments?”.
From the men’s and women’s senior teams to the Para squads, and down to the many Youth teams – SGP is truly the home of English Football for all. Catherine Gilby, Head of Para Performance, shares what it means to be a part of English Football at St. George’s Park: “For us, it’s that hub, it’s that feel[ing] of being part of not just the Para Football programme, but a bigger England team. If you talk to any of our players, that’s what they would say. They love being part of this and feeling part of Team England.”
Over the past 10 years, we have shared our world class facilities with hundreds of teams across many different sports. FA Technical Director, John McDermott, shares an insight into the regular visits we receive from elite-level sports teams from across the world: “The beauty of working here is the amount of visitors we get. From the various clubs coming to the centre, you get this pooling of ideas, this pooling of wisdom.”
The importance of SGP has not been lost on those involved in English Football, as concluded by John McDermott: “What I can tell you, is the difference between not having a National Football and having one is phenomenal.”