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New Academy building Unveiled


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Today (Saturday) is the official opening of the new Academy and Community Pavilion at our Cobham training ground, the occasion marked by the inaugural Chelsea FC Academy International Tournament. Prior to kick-off in the three-day Under 16s event that has drawn teams from around the world to Surrey, the impressive new construction, which is situated just a goal-kick away from the existing main building, was host to an opening ceremony attended by guests of honour including the FA's director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking, Felipe Scolari, Peter Kenyon and a former Chelsea youth product who progressed to England international status, Ray Wilkins.

Roman Abramovich was also present on opening day, as were every Chelsea Academy age group, the Ladies squad and a few intrigued spectators who had nipped across from the nearby first team training session.

However the honour of unveiling the plaque to commemorate the opening fell to a player who progressed from schoolboy at Chelsea to captain his club and then his country - John Terry.


Chief scout and director of youth development, Frank Arnesen, addressed those present.

'The building is one of which we are very proud and clearly shows the ambition of Chelsea to develop our own young talent,' he said.

'But the development of young talent is not only about buildings, it is about the people involved - staff, players and parents.

'We are grateful this building is so near the first team facilities. It is a real inspiration to all the young players that one day they may make the progression. But it also has a role in the community work which plays a vital role in encouraging young people to participate at the grassroots level.'


Sir Trevor Brooking told chelseafc.com:

'It is great to have the biggest clubs trying to invest long-term in developing their own talent. They could just sit back and buy the best players from anywhere but they are trying to get an identity with their local community which is good.

'The FA are trying to develop the game and we look at the grassroots side and the chance for everyone to play and you have a small percentage who can aspire to play at the top level.

'What we have here is an investment at one of our major clubs which is sending a signal that they would like to develop their own players,' he agreed. 'We would like it to be English players and clubs like Chelsea can bring in any 16-year-olds from round the world so we have to make sure we get the coaching and player pathways right for English lads.

'Then the different age groups by the time they are 16 can compete with their counterparts from anywhere in the world.

'One or two clubs like Chelsea will be setting a new standard in facilities and the FA need to be working with the bigger clubs and spread examples of good practice and support to smaller clubs, telling what is going on at the likes of Chelsea so we don't get isolated pockets.'

With the Chelsea focus on developing local English talent, supplemented with the best young players from around the world, 75 per cent of players currently in the Academy are English with 18 England internationals below Under 21 level.

They will be housed in the new building along with Chelsea's highly-regarded Football in the Community department. It is the final phase of Cobham's development.

The previous three phases were the completion of the main building, an introduction of artificial surfaces and floodlights and a full irrigational plan to give the complex a reserve of six weeks' worth of water, if required.


The building opened today creates a modern environment designed to encourage players and staff to continuously move forward in football.

In combining the Academy with Football in the Community, the new building replaces two old and much smaller buildings on the Cobham site that were separate homes to those departments.

It is home to the Under 9s through to the Under 18s, with each age group having their own changing rooms, although while the scholars will be based there, they will still have lunch in the main building, in order to continue building a good relationship with both first team players and reserves.

Still, the new building has its own kitchen and many of the same facilities as the main building, the only difference is the amenities in the new building are dedicated to the needs of the Academy. This means treatment rooms, gyms and rehabilitation rooms are all designed with the younger generation in mind.

The new building also allows local communities to maintain involvement with the Cobham grounds as they play weekend matches there, as well as permitting the Academy's management structure and Football in the Community's 136 coaches to work alongside one another.


The Community Replacement Building now means the 140 acre site can accommodate all elements of football, from the elite through to the local community's weekend games.

'With the new Community Replacement Building and the Academy you have an inspirational environment,' says Paul Deakin, director of sports training facilities at Chelsea.

'This means that although the new building offers a lot, it still makes people want to progress to the main building. Now we have built and developed the facility, it is time to build and develop the players.'

Source: Chelsea FC

Edited by EskWeston
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