As we approach the end of the year, it’s a perfect time to reflect on another action-packed 12 months at St. George’s Park and look back at just some of the highlights.
Throughout the course of the year, we’ve hosted no less than 74 camps across our 23 England teams, spanning the men’s, women’s and para pathways. 2023 has been a year to remember particularly for the Lionesses, reaching the World Cup final in August. Sarina Weigman’s team continue to inspire the nation – and we’ve seen that first-hand at St. George’s Park through supporters attending training sessions and having the opportunity to meet the players.
The year was also a hugely successful one for England’s men’s Under-21 side, who became European Champions following a 1-0 victory over Spain in the final in July. Our Para teams enjoyed success too including success for our Cerebral Palsy team reaching the IFCPF Championships final, our Partially Sighted team getting to the IBSA World Games final, and our Powerchair side involved in the 2023 FIPFA Powerchair Football World Cup final.
However, St. George’s Park provides a venue for more than our England teams. Throughout the year we’ve hosted 31 teams for fixtures or in-season training. One such fixture included a visit from a familiar face as former captain David Beckham was in attendance at the start of the year to watch his son Romeo in action for Brentford B’s match against Huddersfield Town B. January also saw us host League of Ireland Premier Division side Sligo Rovers, who underwent their pre-season training camp at St. George’s Park.
Our commitment to improve sustainability and to tackle climate change continued this year, as back in February we announced that we’d be planting 4,000 trees on the grounds of St. George’s Park throughout the course of the year, in partnership with The National Forest Company.
In preparation for the defence of their Six Nations crown, St. George’s Park welcomed the Red Roses to Staffordshire, as the players utilised the facilities for their final camp ahead of the tournament, which saw England clinch their second consecutive Grand Slam to retain the championship.
In April, we were thrilled to have hosted the Future Leaders Conference for UCFB Level 6 students. We welcomed students from UCFB's Wembley and Etihad campuses, who were treated to a tour, followed by speaker sessions, panel discussions, and a keynote by former professional striker, Dion Dublin. It was a pleasure to have hosted and inspire the next generation of sports industry leaders.
This year, we were also honoured to host the 2023 Grenfell Memorial Cup in the first event to be hosted outside of London. With 29 teams involved to pay tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, St. George’s Park was privileged to play a part in raising awareness of both the events in 2017 and their aftermath. In the same month, we were joined by the Great Britain Special Olympics United Football team, as the players and coaches readied themselves for the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Shortly after having the Northern Ireland senior men’s team spend a brief spell at St. George’s Park ahead of their UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers in June, we provided the base for the FA Disability Cup. Across one weekend, teams from around the country in various formats of disability football competed in the finals of their respective competition, in what was an inspiring weekend.
Prior to the start of the 2023/24 season, St. George’s Park once again provided the perfect venue for clubs to enjoy pre-season training camps. In addition to West Bromwich Albion and Peterborough United, teams from across Europe headed to Staffordshire, including Real Betis, AS Monaco and Benfica.
Rugby in a different format arrived at St. George’s Park in August, as Wheelchair Rugby League world champions England utilised our facilities to prepare for their first game since lifting the World Cup.
A memorable moment from October included the installation of a new home for our Coaching Hall of Fame, paying tribute to football coaches at all levels, each of whom have played an immeasurable role in developing players from grassroots through to an elite professional level. 2023 inductees Peter Sturgess, Les Howie and Martin Thomas were recognised at an evening celebration event hosted at the Hilton hotel.
As the year came to a close, we were once again proud to mark Black History Month by hosting the Black History Month Conference, which was attended by over 250 coaches to celebrate and acknowledge the incredible contribution of our diverse communities within the national coaching community.
Finally, December included a visit from the Gibraltar senior women’s team, as the Gibraltar FA sought to provide their players with the ultimate football experience. We were also proud to host over 100 grassroots volunteers, County FA staff and Disability Football Ambassadors who joined the Journey to Inclusion Super Event encouraging more grassroots clubs to open their doors to disabled people.
A huge thank you to everyone that has joined us in 2023, including our local community users and all 177 grassroots groups that took part in our Play like the Pride experience. We look forward to welcoming all teams and visitors in 2024.