Friday, 7 October 2011

Clairefontaine, La Masia and...Burton?

Spain has La Masia, France has the Clairefontaine Academy and soon England will have St. George’s Park to churn out future talent to help them lift a future World Cup.

Formerly known as the Burton National Football Centre, St. George’s Park aims to be the home of English Football Development, bringing together all of the England Senior and Junior football teams under one roof.

The complex will work in a similar way to that of the Clairefontaine Academy which was founded by the France Football Federation in 1988 and developed stars such as Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry.

However the French football complex has come under criticism for France’s recent failures at International tournaments as well as the outdated methods being taught to future coaches. Then of course there was the racism scandal that embroiled the FFF after it was revealed they secretly put in place a race-quota system in order to limit the number of dual-nationality players in its national academies.

The FA has promised though that St. George’s Park will not be a copy of other national football centres and has received backing from England manager, Fabio Capello, who said: "The venue will be an inspirational site, a place for coaches and players to work, learn and develop.”

Head of NFC Development, David Sheepshanks, said:” Every single leading European country has a national football centre - even Bulgaria - and we are the only leading European country that does not. Every country that has won the World Cup has one apart from us.”

England will hope that within St. George’s Park the FA can develop a team with the same calibre as the Spanish National team, most of which trained at Barcelona’s La Masia football Academy. In the 2010 World Cup final against Holland, Spain’s starting XI had six graduates from the La Masia Academy, including Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Sergio Busquets, and Pedro Rodríguez.

Spain could be facing real competition from England then when it comes to International football with St. George’s Park looking to create an England side with real World Cup winning potential and as it was revealed earlier this week, Manchester City have released images for their rival to Barcelona’s La Masia Youth Academy.

It seems with The FA and Manchester City looking to develop for the future, it could be quite sometime before England sees the benefits of these multi-million pound projects, but if the successes of Clairefontaine and La Masia are anything to go by, the future looks bright.