Portsmouth training ground improvements underway as Academy chief eyes environment for youth to flourish

Greg Miller has pinpointed how Pompey’s training ground purchase can make the Academy flourish.

By Neil Allen
Monday, 25th October 2021, 5:32 pm
Pompey bought their Hilsea training ground in June and have plans for it. Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Pompey bought their Hilsea training ground in June and have plans for it. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Although he admits to still waiting to learn the full details of Tornante’s Roko vision.

In June, the Blues spent around £3m to become owners of the Hilsea venue they’ve been leasing since 2014.

Work is already underway to improve the training ground, which presently hosts Danny Cowley’s first-team and the Academy’s under-18s.

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In addition, the under-16s use facilities once a week as part of a day-release programme.

However, the Academy set-up is largely accommodated at other sites across the area, including Furze Lane, Gosport’s Bay House School, Horndean Technical College and Priory School.

Miller, though, believes more will be brought in-house at the Blues’ training home as the venue flexes its undoubted potential.

He told The News: ‘It would depend on what the owners would want the site to be, I am not entirely aware of the end plan.

‘The club will be doing feasibility studies at the moment, such as what would work best, pitch layout, size of pitches, or if any of the pitches would be indoor.

‘I would be guessing about plans, but I trust the ownership are absolutely committed to improving the football offering at the club – and I’m enthused that hopefully we’ll get more Academy teams training in this location.

‘I would hope that maybe we could get another three or four teams at least onto the site for their night-time training programme.

‘There will be substantial benefits, even if it wasn’t the whole Academy we could get in here.

‘If we were limited – and that’s not to say we will be – I would hope we could get sessions for under-12s to under-16s on the site. Then we would take it from there.

‘Already what we have been able to do with one of the 3G areas is restore it to a suitable and safe state.

‘That will be used for overflow, maybe some midweek training or games from the foundation teams at under-nines, under-10s, and under-11s levels.

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‘We have ripped up the middle barriers and created one whole pitch, replacing some of the worn and unsafe surface, so hopefully that will be available from next month.

‘Of course, it may well be that the owners’ footprint enables us to get the whole Academy on site, but that’s to be ironed out and is still in the planning stages.’

Although Miller is waiting to discover the full programme of improvements, he is aware of some forthcoming work.

In particular, the expansion of the Tifosy-funded pitch to replicate the width of Fratton Park’s playing surface.

He added: ‘In the short-term, we are trying to put some dug-outs on the professional development phase pitch, while the intention is for that pitch to be widened next season.

‘We have taken the perimeter fence down and plans are afoot next summer to put that pitch to a similar width as Fratton Park.

‘Compared to Fratton Park, which is quite a tight pitch, it is probably about two-and-a-half metres short width-wise at the moment.

‘We’re trying to prepare these players to become league footballers, so if we can get them a pitch size as close to typical league pitches then it helps.

‘It helps with the judgment of passing distances, your judgement on when to close down space, how to deliver corners, how to deliver throw-ins.

‘If you’re getting them as close to the pitch size they will play on, then it helps them to prepare properly.’

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