Training ground evolution crucial for Norwich City transfers

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The arrival of the innovative SoccerBot 360 is the latest step in Norwich City’s plan to continue striving to improve the club’s training ground.

Called the Lotus Training Center in a sponsorship deal two years ago, the Colney site has been totally revamped since the days of stacked modular buildings and cramped conditions.

Much of this work was completed in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was not until Thursday that joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones were able to officially open the renovated facilities – during the unveiling of the SoccerBot 360.

The majority of the funding was secured through the £ 5million quickly raised through the Canaries Bond program, when more than 700 investors accepted the offer of favorable interest rates and the potential for a 25% bonus if the club were promoted to the Premier League, which paid off for them at the end of 2018-19.

This program has allowed the self-funded Canaries to raise the capital needed to raise standards significantly at Colney, where players and first-team and academy staff spend the majority of their time – with senior executives admitting that the signings of potential transfer had been discouraged in the past. to the unimpressive environment.

The site is totally different from seven years ago, when Neil Adams was manager of the first team, who was recently promoted to assistant sporting director.

“I always judge it by the reaction of the players,” said the former Canaries winger. “What does Ben Gibson think when he walks in the door?”

“What do Josh Sargent, Christos Tzolis and Milot Rashica think when they enter?” That’s what I’m looking for and when they come in and say “wow” then we know we’re doing something here.

“The people who have come here have seen it evolve and develop, and we are no less impressed and excited than anyone.

“But when you bring a player in for the very first time and we show them, it’s a great element of satisfaction for us when they say it’s the best, the best.

“Some of the players we signed have played for huge clubs and see that we compete and do our best – obviously we’re not Chelsea or Man City – but from what it was to what it is now is a tremendous sense of pride for all of us.

The city has also confirmed its plans for the next stage of development in recent days, after applying for a building permit for a “recovery center” that will include a swimming pool and aquatherapy areas.

Other works would see the construction of an administrative and media building, in the continuity of the intelligent wood cladding which has given the site a touch of modernity, but will not be able to proceed until the funds have been obtained.


The proposed administration and media building seen from the main courtyard of the Lotus training center
– Credit: Norwich City FC

“You can see the improvements we’ve already had, which has been amazing over the past four years. We also outlined the plans for the recovery center and administration block, ”Adams continued.

“The plans are there, but when they are implemented it will depend on the division we are in and the finances.

“We don’t want to stop with SoccerBot. We are extremely proud to be the first club in the country to have one. Again, time will tell if everyone will have one in two or three years or if it will be just us.

“It’s important that we don’t stop.


Lotus NCFC Training Center

The proposed overview of the next stage of development at Lotus Training Center
– Credit: Norwich City FC

The building that houses SoccerBot 360 is the latest edition on campus, with senior executives, guests from Lotus and media representatives demonstrating the technology on Thursday, with players under 23 participating in some of the exercises.

Developed by a German company, up to four adults or eight children can participate at a time, surrounded by 360-degree screens, projecting different challenges, games and visualizations and recognizing when the balloons hit targets.

Focused on improving cognitive behaviors, the technology has been developed for professional use in four key areas: talent identification, player development, injury rehabilitation and match analysis.

Costing around £ 250,000 as part of an overall investment of around £ 750,000 for City, including construction work, the technology will continue to improve as the software is updated in the years to come .


NCFC Soccer Bot

SoccerBot 360 in action at the Norwich City training ground
– Credit: David Freezer

Colney staff are currently learning about the best ways to use the new facility, and Adams continues, “We have been delighted for a few years now. I first saw him two years ago in Germany on the preseason tour.

“We looked at it and we thought, is this going to be just a gimmick, like a fancy PlayStation? Or will it add value to the football club?

“We quickly decided that not only would it appeal to eight-year-olds in Teemu Pukki and experienced players, but it would also develop them as players.

“I think five years from now, with the development of the software and the intelligence of the technology, it will have the potential to go on and on.

“We have already seen the buy-in from the players, they are eager to come in.”

Todd Cantwell is among the senior players to investigate and gain insight into putting in the final touches in recent weeks, but SoccerBot will not yet take credit for the Premier League’s improvements.

When asked how the technology will be used by the first team from now on, Adams concluded, “It really remains to be determined. This is how it will fit in with the coaching staff of the first team. We imagine that there is going to be a huge demand for this, so there will have to be a timeline around that.

“We have 10 academy teams who will all want to use it, plus the first team as well. Obviously the first team will have priority and the academy will work around that.

“How and how often it is used, I really can’t give an answer because it has literally just been opened up and some of the first team players have yet to see it in action.

“I’m pretty sure once the staff on the first team see it, they’ll recognize its value and it’s up to them to decide whether they use it daily, weekly or whatever.”


Stuart Webber, Delia Smith, Michael Wynn Jones and Matt Windle at the Lotus Grand Opening

Pictured, left to right, Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber and majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, and Lotus Cars chief executive Matt Windle at the official opening of the Lotus Training Center
– Credit: Danielle Booden

– You can see SoccerBot 360 in action and our full interview with Neil Adams in the videos above

NCFC EXTRA: Adams does all he can to help Norwich City Chiefs


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