Tuesday, October 09, 2012


St George's Park has been officially opened as England start on the long road to creating a team to win a major tournament for the first time since 1966.

`The 330-acre site was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were given a tour of the park. 

England's players are using the facility for the first time this week as they prepare for their World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

Aimed at raising standards of play at all levels, it will provide a centre of excellence for training coaches and for sports medicine, sports science and psychology. 

Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, said: "Coming here and seeing these wonderful facilities gives me the same feeling as when I first went to the Olympic Park.
"It gives me great pride we have created in this country facilities that are beyond compare anywhere else. 

"St George's Park is a concept totally new. It will provide more than just world-class facilities for our national team and more than a university from which hundreds of coaches will graduate.
"It will provide employment and a social hub for local people and will foster community spirit and purpose and hope throughout England."

Football Association chairman David Bernstein described the opening of its new centre of excellence as an "historic" day for the English game.

He said: 'I actually stood by the pitch on Monday and watched the first team training for the first time here and I must say it was a wonderful experience to see Roy Hodgson and the squad working here.
'We expect to get a huge amount out of this, probably first and foremost the development of more and better coaches. We have good coaches in this country, but we need many many more and this will be a centre driven to produce better coaching.

'It's a multi-faceted site, but it should make a huge impact on English football over a period a time. Having the England team here is inspirational and I think what we want to see is other teams working here at the same time and not training with them but training alongside them.'

Among the facilities at St George's Park are:
- A senior training pitch, laid out to the exact dimensions of the playing surface at Wembley Stadium and with exactly the same mix of grass and artificial fibres. 
- 11 outdoor pitches, five of which are floodlit and have under-soil heating.
- A full-size indoor 3G artificial pitch with a viewing gallery for up to 200 people.
- An altitude chamber to mimic a variety of playing conditions.
- An indoor 60m sprint track with equipment to measure speed and running style.
- Walls adorned with sporting slogans, such as American Olympian Jesse Owens: "A lifetime of training for just 10 seconds."
- A new Hilton hotel featuring suites named after former England players and managers. 

After training the England players were involved in a meet and greet with the Duke and Duchess.

The Duke, who is the president of the FA, even took the time to shake hands with Ashley Cole - even though the Chelsea defender called the FA a 'bunch of t****' on Twitter last week.


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