Perse athletes put through paces at England training centre

Members of the Perse Talented Athlete Programme were given a glimpse into the lives of professional sportspeople during a special visit to St George’s Park.

The school’s top sports stars were put through their paces as they experienced the rigorous regime elite athletes undergo to stay in peak condition at the training headquarters of England’s football teams in Burton.

After the excitement of spotting England men’s team manager Gareth Southgate eating breakfast in the café, the pupils were quickly into their first session on dynamic movement and stretching drills with coaches from Game Changer Performance.

They then developed sprinting techniques during a speed workout before taking part in a gruelling post-lunch session of aerobic tests, which included 12, 100-metre shuttle runs and a 400-metre sprint.

There was no let-up as the pupils moved into the gym for strength and conditioning work before recovering after an intense day of physical activity with a hydrotherapy session, featuring hot and cold pools and an underwater treadmill.

The pupils also enjoyed a tour of the FA facility, including the main pitch, which was designed as an exact replica of that at England’s home stadium Wembley.

Runner Verity Valentine (Year 10) and rugby player Hugh Ponder (Lower Sixth) were among the group who sampled St George’s Park, with both gaining much from the visit.

Verity said: “Using those facilities was really cool, especially going in the gym, which the England football team had been using a couple of weeks before.

“It was quite inspiring. It helped me realise that all professional sportspeople start in the same place and it showed that it’s possible to get there with hard work and the right mindset.”

Meanwhile, Hugh commented: “It was fun using the facilities and it was a great experience to see what top-class sportspeople do on a daily basis.

“Hydrotherapy was probably the best thing for me. It was really enjoyable after all the work we had done and helped make me feel so much better.”

Perse Assistant Director of Sport (Performance) Ravi Mahendra, who co-ordinates the Talented Athlete Programme, felt it had been a worthwhile visit for the pupils.

He said: “All the sessions were really well delivered and it was good to see students being competitive, whether it was with each other in the shuttle runs or trying to test themselves against the scores recorded by England players in the gym.

“It was a pretty cool experience. I was really impressed with all their hard work during the course of the day and I think they got a lot out it.”

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