From colouring zones to custom coffees – Inside England’s World Cup base

England defender Alex Greenwood enjoys channelling her younger self at the colouring-in station, while Lauren Hemp, Niamh Charles and Keira Walsh prefer playing table tennis in the swanky Australian hotel which will be the Lionesses’ base for the remainder of the World Cup.

The European champions’ private wing of the Crowne Plaza in the coastal New South Wales town of Terrigal is the product of more than 18 months of Football Association planning, including extensive consultation with players to create an area they hope will provide a “home from home” and lead to better performances on the pitch.

The Lionesses were an integral part of the design, from picking the inspirational quotes on the walls to requesting the wide range of activities on offer, including arcade games, a library, darts, and a popular coffee station serving up brews emblazoned with custom images in the foam. By midday on Wednesday, baristas estimated they had served up about 40 cups.

Greenwood, who alongside Lucy Bronze is playing in a third consecutive World Cup, said: “We have got an amazing base camp.

The Lionesses were asked what they most needed to unwind and make the space their own, with requests ranging from a crafts table to table tennis and arcade games

The Lionesses were asked what they most needed to unwind and make the space their own, with requests ranging from a crafts table to table tennis and arcade games (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“A lot of people are doing colouring in and (doing) jigsaws. We’ve got an unbelievable set-up with a games room. The younger ones play a bit more games than the older ones. It’s a relaxed camp. The staff make it really relaxed and the experienced players help the younger ones. There’s no concern there.

“I’m actually loving colouring in at the moment. I’ve found my inner-child Alex again! Coffees and walks have been my go-to at the minute. I’m colouring in all kinds, whatever I can get my hands on. I’m running out of spaces now.”

In a tribute to team history, rooms are named after former Lionesses, including Mary Phillip, Rachel Yankey, Ellen White and ‘The Scott’ relaxation room, which former midfielder Jill joked she hoped is named after her and not defender-turned-BBC pundit Alex.

The Scott relaxation room features arcade games, table tennis, a small library and a place for players to watch television together

The Scott relaxation room features arcade games, table tennis, a small library and a place for players to watch television together (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The Lionesses had a home base at the Lensbury Resort in Teddington during Euro 2022. The FA picked up on the positive impact that retreat had on England’s triumphant campaign and were keen to recreate a similar environment for a tournament that will see them hop between three cities in the world’s sixth largest country during their quest for a maiden global title.

Kay Cossington, women’s technical director at the FA, said: “We learned so much from the Lensbury…it was the home-from-home feel, the different activities, the relaxation area, the fact that everything was in such close proximity.

“Coming to a tournament this size and scale in a country this big, we wanted to try and make the tournament as small as we could in terms of the logistics and the travel to help the loading.

This painting, by Bolton artist Harry Ward, was created from images submitted by each player and shows each in the kit of her grassroots club as a reminder of where they have come from

This painting, by Bolton artist Harry Ward, was created from images submitted by each player and shows each in the kit of her grassroots club as a reminder of where they have come from (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“You can imagine how much kit and equipment gets shifted from venue to venue. It was really nice for us to land here and know that, although we travel to games, this is now where we come back to. This is our base. This is our home in Australia.

“We choose from a performance lens, but equally the players have got to feel that it’s right for them as well. Thankfully we are actually joined with what the need is (for them) because it’s a performance reason.”

The first time the FA spoke with FIFA about their plans was in December 2021. Six months later, Cossington and Lionesses general manager Anja van Ginhoven visited about 23 hotels and 18 training grounds in 11 days.

Inspirational phrases on the walls were hand-picked by England players

Inspirational phrases on the walls were hand-picked by England players (Zac Goodwin/PA)

When the Lionesses were drawn in Group D, which will see them play matches in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide during the group stage, they were ready to submit the Crowne Plaza and nearby palm tree-lined Central Coast Stadium to FIFA as their first choice, a decision ultimately made by England boss Sarina Wiegman after extensive meetings with her team.

Everything from the player pictures splashed on the wall to the three lions etched in glass above the private entrance, not to mention the decked-out studio where Jill Scott hosts Lionesses: Down Under, is a far cry from 2005, when England hosted the European Championships for the first time.

Cossington added: “We never had anything like this. We did the best we could with the resources we had at the time.

England Training Camp Tour – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – Wednesday 26th July

Organisers wanted the retreat to feature plenty of specifically English touches (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“You were printing things off yourself and putting them on doors, the banners, the pop-ups, you’d carry them around with you. It is night and day.

“I’ve seen it grow and evolve incredibly, but this I truly feel has gone another step another level another mile and I think that’s again testimony to how the game has grown.”

You might also like...

P