On the back of specific recommendations in the McLeish review relating to the performance of our domestic and national teams, the Scottish FA commissioned Alistair Gray of Renaissance and Co. to lead the consultancy phase of our Performance Strategy development.
The implementation of Gray's work kicked-off with the search for our first ever Performance Director. Dutchman Mark Wotte was in position in early 2011 with the principle task of getting all of our national teams qualifying for tournaments once again.
The performance system has been backed by the Scottish FA Board and around £10m worth of investment will be made available over the next five years to bring the performance principles to life. They include:
* A strategic plan to ensure 10,000 hours of quality ball time for elite players
* Creating a Best v Best culture
* Creating a world-class coaching community
* Establishing a new Scotland Way
Mark Wotte believed that the formation of seven Regional Performance Schools would symbolise the first green shoots of recovery for Scottish football.
He spent his first few months in post observing matches from senior international level to grassroots, concluding that the nation must have a more focused and co-ordinated approach to youth development.
Fundamental to his performance strategy was the appointment of seven regional performance coaches to work out of appointed schools that will house the most talented boys and girls in the region, providing expert, tailored coaching before and after the curriculum.
“We will start with seven performance schools and invest in our elite kids: our 12 to 15 year olds,” he said. “I believe this is the most important part of what we are aiming to do. These academies are a hugestep in the right direction. I want to be in the position where we see these academies creating the Scotland stars oftomorrow and I am confident that this will happen.
“In fact, by 2020, I expect our senior A squads to have six or seven players who have come from our performance schools.”
The role of performance director was hailed by then National Coach, Craig Levein, as the most significant appointment the Scottish FA has made in decades. The remit of the role is to take Scottish football fromgood to great once again, by planning a route from grassroots to the senior national men’s and women’s teams and creating a Best v Bestculture.
A new National Performance Centre was identified as the "crown jewel" of the Scottish FA's performance strategy. In 2013, following a competitive bid process, the Scottish Government announced that the £30m sporting school of excellence would be built at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.
Oriam, Scotland's Sports Performance Centre is due to open in August 2016 and will host the Scotland National Teams, the Performance Department and incorporatemulti-sport involvement including rugby, volleyball, athletics,badminton, basketball, cricket, fencing, handball, hockey, netball,shinty and squash.
The Scottish FA Chief Executive, Stewart Regan is hopeful that it will have atangible effect on the prospects of the nation's football team and beboth aspirational and inspirational to the young footballers who arepart of the Scottish FA’s seven Regional Performance Schools.
"Whenever we have a camp, we would want the teams to use thefacilities," Regan explained. "Accommodation was one of the keycomponents of the vision alongside other medical and sport sciencerequirement, and a full-size indoor 3G surface, which means we will beable to train and coach all year round.
"It will be a one-stop shop to provide all our needs prior to a major match, both home and away.
"It will be used right from the men's A squad down to our under-16sVictory Shield side, and the women's full international team down totheir under-15 and 17s.
"It is the perfect opportunity to bring together our players in aninspirational environment with inspirational people to try and buildperformance for the future. It is also, then, the link between ourPerformance Schools and the national teams. It is a place that everyyoung player in our Performance School System should aspire to be partof."
Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, said:
“The National Performance Centre for Sport will be the jewel in thecrown for Scottish sport and help turn dreams into reality. It will bethe best place for our elite athletes to mentally and physically prepareto compete on the world stage, helping more Scots win, more often.
“The Heriot Watt and City of Edinburgh Council team presented aninspiring vision which clearly demonstrated a positive commitment todeveloping high performance and a strong focus on partnership. I amconfident they will deliver an iconic project, in a great setting, thattakes Scottish sport onto a new level.
“Our vision for sport builds on the tremendous expertise at thesportscotland institute of sport and complements the increasing numberof world-class facilities across Scotland where elite athletes aretraining, such as the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the refurbished RoyalCommonwealth Pool, the Aberdeen Sports Arena and the Tollcross AquaticsCentre.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said:
“This new multi-sport performance centre will complement the terrificfacilities we already have in Scotland, and assist our high performanceathletes in honing their skills and delivering on the world stage.”
The NPCS will be backed by £25 million from the Scottish Government and£2.5 million from each of Heriot-Watt University and the City ofEdinburgh Council.
The Centre will offer a full sized indoor 3G football pitch with seatingfor 500, a full sized grass pitch with seating for 500, a synthetic 3Gpitch, two goalkeeper training areas with floodlights, two grass rugbypitches, five grass football pitches, three outdoor tennis courts, anine court sports hall, a 100 station fitness suite, hydrotherapy,strength and conditioning and treatment areas and office accommodationfor governing bodies. It will also incorporate the existing facilitiesat the University’s Centre for Sport and Exercise.
Stage one bidding closed in February 2013 and six applications werereceived. An assessment of each bid was carried out by the NPCS SteeringGroup supported by sportscotland. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeonapproved the recommendation of the Steering Group to invite three ofthe bids to work up more detailed stage two proposals. Those were:Dundee City Council; Heriot Watt University supported by the City ofEdinburgh Council; and a partnership between the University of Stirlingand Stirling Council.
Stage two applications were submitted in July and each of the bids wasassessed by sportscotland across the key criteria set out in the biddocumentation: Sports Impact and Strategic Need; Technical; Managementand Operational; Financial; and Legal and Planning. The Steering Groupvisited each of the proposed sites on August 1, during which therelevant bid teams outlined their plans. The bidders made finalpresentations to the Steering Group on August 8. The Steering Groupsubsequently presented a report and a unanimous recommendation to theDeputy First Minister.
The Steering Group members are:
- Stewart Regan, Chief Executive, Scottish Football Association (Chair)
- Sheila Begbie MBE, former Head of Girls and Women’s Football, Scottish Football Association, now Head of Women's Rugby at Scottish Rugby
- Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer, EventScotland
- Alistair Gray, Executive Chairman, Winning Scotland Foundation
- Douglas Potter, Chair of the High Performance Group (Hockey) in Scotland
- Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland
- Donnie Jack, Deputy Director for Sport & Physical Activity, Scottish Government