Northern Ireland begin seven-month full-time training camp before Women’s Euros

A camp that will see non-professional Northern Ireland players train full-time ahead of this summer’s Women’s Euros has kicked off in Belfast.

Saturday, 8th January 2022, 12:00 pm

Twenty-two Northern Ireland-based players are entering the programme at Newforge Sports Complex.

Members of Kenny Shiels’ squad who play professionally in England and Scotland will remain with their clubs to train, apart from during international windows.

Northern Ireland Women will be competing at a major tournament finals for the first time at the England-hosted Euros, which start on July 6.

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Northern Ireland senior women's manager Kenny Shiels. Pic by Pacemaker.

Shiels’ side are set to face Norway at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium in their Euros opener on July 7, before further Group C games at the same venue against Austria and then England.

Their next competitive fixtures are World Cup qualifiers against the latter two teams in April, and either side of that double-header they are expected to play friendlies in February and June.

Shiels said in a statement from the Irish Football Association: “2022 will be a pivotal year for my squad and backroom team.

“Having a permanent base at Newforge will help us collectively to maximise our potential in readiness for World Cup qualifiers and, of course, competing at the Euros in England.

“It will take at least six weeks until our programme begins to show effect. It’s certainly a great feeling to be part of it. Some girls will adjust quicker than others. Newforge is a fantastic setting for the girls to progress.”

Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: “We will do everything we can to prepare the squad for this fantastic occasion.

“It has been a huge undertaking to put such an operation together over the last few months. We are, of course, used to short term international training get-togethers, but never before have we run a seven-month camp with the financial, operational, technical, welfare and medical support such a project demands.”

Angela Platt, the Irish FA’s director of women’s football, said: “Up to now many of our players have balanced studying or employment, or both, with training commitments to prepare to compete at the highest level in our sport.

“Competing with the best requires a level of commitment that makes full-time employment virtually impossible. With this programme now in place it will enable our squad to fully focus on being elite athletes and give us the best chance of success in Southampton later this year.

“To the employers, education organisations and clubs we say a big thank you for their support in releasing players from their current commitments to be part of this exciting and innovative programme.”

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