Brooking optimistic on new coaching centre
Sir Trevor Brooking believes England's new National Football Centre must be adequately supported if it is to turn the country's fortunes around.
Delayed for over a decade by a combination of planning issues and a lack of funding caused by the exorbitant costs of constructing the new Wembley Stadium, the 100 million-pound complex at St George's Park formally opens this month.
The 330-acre site boasts 12 full-size training pitches, including an exact replica of the Wembley surface, and will play host to 24 England teams, covering men and women as well as senior and youth levels.
But the centre's most important function will be as the home of FA Learning, the Football Association's education department. Through the delivery of national coach education courses, it is hoped both the quality and the quantity of England's coaches will be drastically improved.
In the run-up to England’s spectacular failure at the World Cup in South Africa two years ago, figures published by UEFA showed only 2769 English coaches held their top qualifications – the B, A and Pro badges.
Spain, the current world and European champions, had 23,995.
The figures make for sombre reading, and Brooking, the FA's director of development, told Goal.com
that the organisation must use their new facility to address the problem if further embarrassments on the international stage are to be avoided.
"We need to make sure the National Football Centre is a game-changer for coaching in this country," Brooking said.
"The facility itself is great, but we've got to work hard to put the structure in place around it.
"The FA are not going to be able to do that on their own, so we need the funding bodies who have helped up until now, along with the Premier League and Football League, and the LMA (League Managers' Association) and PFA (Professional Footballers Association) will also have roles to play in that.
"When I arrived in 2004, we had the Charter for Quality on one side and the Centres for Excellence on the other, and there was a concern they weren't delivering quite what we hoped they would.
"We had some challenges on a political level with regards to youth development, because while we can impact things in a coaching sense, all the players are with the clubs, so any changes have to be led by the Premier League.
"They appointed Ged Roddy as their director of youth to revamp the professional game a couple of years ago.
"This year they've introduced the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), which I think will be beneficial. At the same time we're opening St George’s Park, and we're using that as a catalyst to grow the work we do on the coach education side.
"As of now, with the EPPP, St George's Park and the age appropriate courses, we're in as good a position as we've ever been, although probably about five years later than I would have liked.
"We've had some challenges, but we've got an overall package now which should see us able to move forward at a much better pace than we have done."