THE inspiration came from the likes of Holland but the genius, they hope, will come from within; not only within our own shores but, as of 2016, the same building. The Scottish Government is preparing to announce the winning bid for the new National Performance Centre for Sport, with the steering group meeting with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday to review their recommendation. Awaiting the outcome are the shortlisted teams from Dundee, Edinburgh and Stirling.
Taking its lead from the SFA’s Scotland United 2020 vision, the focus will be on football but the remit also demanded a multi-sports hall as well as a range of facilities aimed at eking the best out of elite athletes.
The centre represents a £25 million investment by the Scottish Government and will include both an outdoor and indoor replica Hampden pitch. There will be a further all-weather pitch outside, as well as grass pitches for matches and training pitches as well as workout areas indoors and out.
Each bid includes a nine-court sports hall catering for the likes of badminton, volleyball, netball and handball, as well as a range of offices for the governing bodies. The centres will house a wide gamut of support services, including sports science and strength and conditioning, providing fitness areas, video analysis units and rehabilitation suites.
“This is the jewel in the crown of our performance strategy and will be a combination not just of fantastic facilities but also a really inspirational environment,” says Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish FA and chairman of the steering group. “We looked around the world and at other sports and we visited a number of examples, including Papendal, the national sports centre in Holland, as well as St George’s park in Burton-on-Trent, which is run by the English FA. They provide an inspirational environment for young players and all of the support they need under the one roof.
“The football coaching we give is really only part of the story. In getting to be an elite performer there’s a whole series of what I call “one per centers”, things that in themselves maybe only add that extra one per cent but combined soon add up to tangible improvements and can make a huge difference. That could be sports psychology, the right diet, the right rehabilitation support, sport science, information technology through video analysis and data management. We want to give future Scottish elite performers the best possible chance of making it to the top.”
It is also geared towards improved performances in numerous sports, with Scottish Rugby keen to come on board should the Edinburgh bid prove successful. “We were delighted with the quality of all three bids submitted and the designs which have been put forward and the collaboration with partners,” added Regan. “It was a tough decision but in the end it was unanimous.”
The hope is that after meeting with the Scottish Government this week, the decision will be made public sooner rather than later, with all involved champing at the bit to get work started. “The clock is ticking regards getting it completed by the early part of 2016, so we want to get things moving as quickly as we can to give the successful bidder maximum time to deliver the project.”
With a background in many sports, Regan says the value of having the elite performers from different disciplines on a single site should not be underestimated. “I’m a believer that sports can learn from each other and that’s why I was keen that this was the national performance centre for sport and not the national performance centre for football.
“We want sports to learn from each other and there are undoubtedly coaching techniques and principles used by an athletics coach, or a tennis or rugby coach that could be used by a football coach. We see the national performance centre as a major opportunity for collaboration. For all Scottish sports people to improve, I think we need to stop working in silos and work together to achieve greater returns. It’s a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.”