St. George’s Park may be the national football centre - but last week it played host to another of England’s favourite sports.
For three days, over 300 cricket coaches and sports scientists attended the England and Wales Cricket Board’s annual coaching conference.
TheFA.com joined them for an afternoon and spoke to Gordon Lord, ECB Head of Elite Coach Development, to find out more about why cricket’s governing body chose The FA’s national football centre for their annual coaching event.
He explained that while the practical facilities are a major draw, it was one of the centre’s more subtle benefits that had been the attraction.
Lord said: “Some of the greatest coaching or the greatest learning happens when you are not quite expecting it, and that’s what happens when you shove great people together in a great environment where they can relax and enjoy themselves. That is what St. George’s Park has offered us.
“It is obviously a world class facility and the delegates here might not have been able to experience all it has to offer, but we have been looked after in an iconic environment where there is a focus on excellence.”
The theme of the conference has been Leading to Performance, with the workshops and presentations focused predominantly on the role leadership plays in improving players' overall performance.
Lord explained that he had sought the expertise of professionals from across sport, business and the military to deliver an extensive programme of events, but it was St. George's Park's way of encouraging constant interaction between sports professionals that he was particularly pleased with.
He added: “We have got this beautiful healthy cross section of people who understand people development from all sort of different environments.
"We have had John Neal from Ashridge Business School, we've got Harry Bartlett and Gemma Morgan from the military.
"The beauty of an event like this being hosted here is less to do with what comes from the stage and more to do with the interactions that go on over the lunch and in the corridors. That’s the magic of it.
“So when Paul Downton [ECB Managing Director] walked in, he sensed this vibrancy and this energy that is created by 150 coaches coming together and sharing."
St. George’s Park's Managing Director, Julie Harrington, was equally delighted with the success of the conference and believed the ECB’s decision to choose the Burton-on-Trent facility served to highlight the centre’s growing reputation across the sporting world.
Harrington said: “Whenever you see coaches meeting in the corridors, learning in one of our classrooms or engaged in discussion on the side of one our pitches, St. George’s Park comes alive."
“It is what this place was designed to do - to bring coaches together and provide them with the environment and facilities to share ideas, best practice and to learn new things in order to develop themselves."
“Our primary responsibility is to support football coaches and the 24 England teams, but we are proud and excited by the fact that we can welcome other sports from whom we can learn, share new innovations and discuss ideas with that could have the potential to benefit our own coaching community.”
“The fact that an organisation such as the ECB has chosen the centre to host their coaching conference shows exactly how our reputation is continuing to grow and take hold across the sporting community."