The Irish FA’s new Technical Director, Aaron Hughes, aims to provide Northern Ireland football with a state-of-the-art national training and development centre.
The former Newcastle United and Fulham defender peaked out at The Belfast Telegraph, outlining the importance of the project, one of the key elements of the IFA’s corporate strategy from this year to 2027.
For more than a decade, various locations have considered building a soccer training center here, but the plan has yet to come to fruition.
Hughes is finally determined to make it happen.
“We recognize the need for a National Training Center and are working on it,” says Hughes.
“Regarding the timeline, it’s hard to define because it’s in our strategy, and it’s been in previous strategies, but there’s an element of ‘we need to get this done. Make sure it’s done right. Just because it’s a strategy doesn’t mean you’re stuck in something.
“I think some of my input comes in there to ask the right questions and dig a little deeper and provide context from the football side of things. That it’s going to take a little longer than originally planned. means that it will take whatever time is necessary to make sure it is done correctly.
As part of his two-year UEFA Executive Master for International Players (UEFA MIP) course, Hughes wrote a research paper on the National Training Center in Northern Ireland and visited other centers across Europe to become familiar with the benefits it brings. doing.
“The National Training Center has more than the obvious facilities for Northern Irish football,” said Hughes.
“I talked to other federations and associations and researched centers to try and find the best fit for us.
“A lot of the same things are coming back from different associations and federations, and it was the home of football, the core of everything we wanted to do, the foundation of how we wanted to build our culture.
“When it’s your home base, you can grow a culture and a standard of excellence from there. increase.
“We recently visited FA in Belgium and you get that feeling when you walk into their training center: a class.
“I feel like I’m in a high-performance environment, not just for the people who play the game, but for the people who work in the office.
“Everyone realizes why they are there and what they are working for, creating a sense of unity and synergy throughout the association. Everyone can contribute to the football success of their country, regardless of their age.”