The Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) has officially opened its new national football centre at Brdo by Kranj, some 30km north of the capital Ljubljana.
The opening ceremony was attended by more than 500 guests, including Slovenia's prime minister Miro Cerar, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, UEFA general secretary ad interim Theodore Theodoridis and delegates from national football associations across Europe.
"Both of our friends Gianni Infantino and Theodore Theodoridis helped to set up this magnificent football centre," said NZS president Aleksander Čeferin in thanking the two bodies for their invaluable assistance in bringing the project to fruition.
Construction on the new centre, situated in an impressive green-area estate near the Brdo Castle, began in November 2014. The centre comprises three natural grass football fields and a multipurpose sports training facility, and the NZS administrative building will house some 40 people.
"This is an amazing example of what can be done with the development programmes of UEFA and FIFA," said Theodoridis in his address to the ceremony. "I congratulate the NZS leadership for these magnificent facilities here in such a beautiful environment."
"This centre will serve as an example for many others," he added. "It is modern and fully equipped. This is a great achievement, and Slovenian football will benefit considerably."
Infantino added: "The NZS leadership and everyone working in Slovenian football has shown what can be done if [this work] is professional, passionate and responsible."
Football is the leading sport in Slovenia, whose national association has been a UEFA member since 1993. There are 287 clubs, just over 38,000 registered players, of which some 33,000 are amateur, youth and women/girl players, and around 1,400 coaches. Slovenia also recently hosted the latest UEFA Grassroots Workshop in impressive fashion.
The ceremony featured skydivers, who landed on the pitch with the flags of Slovenian, FIFA, UEFA and the NZS. In addition to the help of the international football authorities, the Slovenian government created the basic conditions for the centre's construction.
As well as providing facilities for Slovenia's national football teams, the centre will also be used by other sports teams and athletes from Slovenia and abroad. The next scheduled stage is the construction of a national sports medical centre, which will provide top-range services for athletes from around the world.
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