St George's Park – a new chapter for English football

Club Website editor Dan Pope gets a tour of the FA’s new national football centre by David Sheepshanks, Chairman of St George’s Park, who talks about its importance to English football at all levels of the game.

When the Football Association purchased a 330-acre site on the outskirts of Burton-Upon-Trent, France were reigning World and European Champions.

The year was 2001 and, as France reaped the dividends of their national football centre in Clairefontaine, opened in 1988, the FA had a vision of creating their own.

The site was landscaped and pitches were laid but plans were shelved amid financial concerns and, as the FA rebuilt Wembley Stadium, the Staffordshire plot lay dormant. So, one could argue, did English football.

Now, some 11 years on, the English game can look forward once more. A new, state-of-the-art, £100m facility signals the start of a new chapter for English football. St George’s Park, the FA’s national football centre, is up and running.

Twenty-four England teams will call St George’s Park their home. The men’s under-17s were first to train at the centre this week, with Roy Hodgson’s men due on site to prepare for their October World Cup qualifier with San Marino.

At their disposal will be a full-size indoor 3G pitch, 11 outdoor pitches including an exact replica of Wembley and a cutting-edge sports medicine and science centre, all within a few steps of their room at the Hilton, one of two hotels on site.

A tour of St George’s Park reveals first class facilities throughout – the equal of any club in the country – with an attention to detail that aims to inspire. Quotes from sporting legends take their place alongside iconic imagery on the walls and corridors as you move between rooms, suites and pitches named after some of English football’s finest.

Training on the Sir Alf Ramsey pitch may inspire Wayne Rooney and his team mates to greater things, but it’s the centre’s role as the FA’s new home of coach education that should mark the lasting benefits to English football.

Read the full article in August’s edition of The Clubhouse – click here to view.

Have your say!

What does St George’s Park mean to you and to English football? Are you hoping to attend a course there? Do you expect the centre to raise the bar for football coaching across the country?

We want to hear from you so please have your say in our comments section below.

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Chris Davis on August 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    My grandson, Brandon, plays for Pickwick under 9s in Portsmouth and has a very good coach. When reading about St Georges I wonder if it is a million miles away from my grandson’s team and others at the same level.
    Will it be part of the plans for St Georges to let youngsters come and observe, because it could help them to see where they could be in a very few years.
    At nine kids are at an age where they could take there skills to other sports, especially after the success and exposure of the Olympics. We need to keep them enthused.
    A major concern of myself and other parents is the emphasis away from individual skill. Football is a team game but, the main objective is scoring goals not just possession and passing.

  2. Dorothy Eason on September 10, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Just more proof that football in this country is a class system. Spend money on all the thousands of kids who play every week and are not likely to ever use this facility. I suppose we will see ex-pro-footballers kids enjoying it and kids from the private school sector who have professional footballers coaching them from an early age. Just another example of “jobs for the boys”. We need to be giving big help to grass roots. Where are all the 9×9 pitches? The Government should at least promise not to give planning permission to build on sports grounds.

  3. ryan on September 12, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    i think you will find it is used for kids of all class and ability…the local under 11’s burton junior football league is being played there….proof of funding grass roots 🙂

  4. Steve Bilboe on October 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    ” Grass Roots Football” a phrase banded about by mainly those who make a healthy living out of the great game but whom have little to do with development at the level I assosiate this phrase with.
    My sons have played junior football since the age of 6 ( now 14) urged on not by the FA or the Professionals, but by the parents and those hard working managers whom run the local Sunday league teams for the sake of the kids, week in week out. There is hope however – when Walsall Football Club can provide excellent development oppotunity through it’s partnerships with school development centres leading to their Academy. This is against a contrast of the larger wealthier clubs whom dont respond to emails and promise to send scouts to kids games but dont turn up!( Wolves) Well done to the local volunteers who tirelessly organise the local football scene and my local club for showing what Grass Roots Football really means.

  5. Will on December 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I am an FA Level 2 Coach and was taught by my tutor to look for the errors off the ball aswell as on the ball. The FA can build as many development centres of these as they want, aslong as you have the majority of other Coaches just looking for athletic skinny kids then we are destined for disappointment as a nation at major tournaments. I have a player in my team that is slightly overweight but when he receives the ball he has a great 1st touch and 99% of the time he makes the right decision. Whats the point of being Aaaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips or Theo Walcott and having pace to burn if 50% of the time they make the wrong decision and the final ball doesn’t come at the right time!!!.

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