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Bright future for Welsh football – Martínez

Dragon Park development centre signals hope for a bright future, says Everton boss Martinez

Everton manager Roberto Martínez believes that the future is bright for Welsh football.

The former Swansea manager was a guest speaker at last month’s National Coaches Conference at Dragon Park, the Football Association of Wales’ (FAW) new development centre in Newport.

The facility, which offers world class training, playing and education facilities, was described by Wales manager Chris Coleman as “one of the most important advances in the history of Welsh football” when it opened in 2013.

After visiting the centre, Martínez, himself a product of the FAW’s coaching system, shares the national boss’ optimism.

“This a special time for Welsh football, and I think this facility reflects what a bright future Welsh football has,” Martínez told UEFA.com, after his keynote speech to UEFA Pro, A and B Licence holders.

“Events like this are vital. As a young coach you need a bit of direction and I always feel that you need that bit of inspiration. These courses help you to be in control of your thoughts, to be inspired to think and to debate the game, which is a passion we all share.”

Whilst the National Coaches Conference focussed on the elite game, Dragon Park was designed with the aim of improving the standard of football at all levels across Wales and was built with the help of the UEFA HatTrick assistance programme.

“UEFA have always been very keen to help the game at grassroots level, as well as smaller nations,” added Martinez. “But I think they are more supportive of good visions, and good people behind them, rather than just supporting a nation for the sake of it. The funding is obviously important, but it’s more important to have a vision, and to know what to do with that money.”

Another graduate of the Welsh coaching system, former Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, was also impressed with the state-of-the-art facility.

“You can see that there’s a lot of passion and thought gone into this amazing facility,” he told UEFA.com. “It’s an act of solidarity on UEFA’s behalf that even smaller nations like Wales can benefit from the universe that is European football. It’s good to see UEFA supporting the ambitions of smaller nations.”

To find out more visit welshfootballtrust.org.uk/dragonpark.

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