By Paul-Daniel Zaharia
Twenty kilometres west of the Romanian capital, Bucharest, lies a small village called Mogosoaia. It is known for its superb palace, a truly wonderful piece of architecture and art, built at the beginning of the 18th century by a former ruler, Constantin Brancoveanu.
Not far away from the palace, art is replaced by football. On a total surface of approximately 35,000 square metres, the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) has built, and is still completing work on, the impressive National Training Centre, a complex destined exclusively for Romania's national football teams, which was inaugurated last month in the presence of UEFA President Lennart Johansson.
Born of necessity
The initiative was born of necessity. For decades, all the national teams used either the National stadium, or the stadiums and accommodation facilities of the capital's clubs - FC Steaua Bucuresti, FC National Bucuresti, FC Rapid Bucuresti or FC Dinamo Bucuresti - as their training camp before home games, while the national youth teams were obliged to go to other cities to train.
The longing for proper facilities is reaching a positive conclusion. After overcoming various difficulties in finding a location, and thanks to support given by UEFA and FIFA, the FRF started work on the new centre three years ago. Demostene Raducanu, the FRF's investment co-ordinator, told uefa.com: "There are two phases of work. The first, which will end on 20 September, involves a surface of approximately 19,000 square meters, given for use by the Mogosoaia mayor for a period of 99 years. This is the so-called sports zone."
There are two full-sized football pitches, each with its own floodlight installations. One of the pitches is the so-called "official" ground, which will be used not only for training but for official and friendly matches.
Alongside the pitches is an 800-seat stand with four dressing rooms within. Raducanu explained: "Because there will be international tournaments, and as the time between matches will be short, we have to have four such dressing rooms to ensure that teams can prepare for their games." In addition, there are other up-to-date facilities such as a medical centre, pool, sauna, heating and two power generators to run the floodlighting.
A second phase, involving 16,200 square metres of land that is the property of the FRF, is scheduled for completion in 2004. "Provided, of course, we have the necessary money," said Raducanu. This phase covers a four/five-star hotel with four levels and 80 rooms, which can accommodate five squads. It means that, at some stage in the future, Romania’s national senior and youth teams will live, train and play friendly and official games at the centre.
At the end of September, the centre will play host to one of the preliminary groups in the current UEFA European Under-19 Championship, featuring Romania, Estonia, Austria and the Faroe Islands. The teams will be accommodated in Bucharest after playing the games at the complex.
Built to last
Another aim of the centre is to host international congresses and seminars. All in all, as FRF president Mircea Sandu said, Romanian football is putting together facilities that will surely help it flourish in the future. “Our aim,” explained Mr Sandu, “is to guarantee the Romanian national teams the best conditions and facilities, and to leave behind us something which will last for many years, for several generations, as well as to have something which our guests will appreciate.”
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