Helping the Football Association of Wales deliver a strategic plan

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) is the third oldest in the world, having come into existence in 1876; and football in Wales is stronger than ever, as the team continues to compete and succeed at the very highest levels of the game.

FAW are committed to increasing awareness, accessibility and participation in the game across all ages, abilities, genders and race. They aim to provide the very best facilities and experiences for both players and supporters, on and off the pitch. The association has invested in high quality facilities and services to develop the game throughout the principality.

The Challenge

A key part of the strategy was the creation of a new National Development Centre in Wrexham, North Wales, to complement existing facilities at Dragon Park, Newport, South Wales. The £5million elite training facility would follow an existing blue print, and be developed in association with key partners at Colliers Park, Wrexham.

In addition to ‘state-of-the-art’ pitches and facilities, the project team knew they would need a scalable and secure networking infrastructure to support players,
staff, students, and visitors – and they asked Advatek to help them.

“We needed extensive Wi-Fi coverage across the site, and a new network (LAN) to serve the groups using the centre” says Evren Karaibrahimgil, ICT Manager. “Secure high-speed connectivity to our Cloud services, and links to the internet and our other sites were key.”

The facility would be used by FAW to develop football at all levels, from youth right through to the senior teams, and for coach education.

Blue-print for Success

Based on FAW’s clear and specific needs, Advatek designed and installed an innovative and secure networking and connectivity solution. Continues Evren Karaibrahimgil: “Our use of cloud-based services like Office 365 continues to grow. We also wanted to make greater use of collaboration services, like Microsoft Teams to enable people to get together over video rather than travelling long distances for face to face meetings.”

The Advatek solution is based on a Fortinet Network Security Fabric that provides a single unified connectivity and security platform with complete visibility of performance, along with automated threat protection across the entire digital attack surface area.

Wireless access point placement was optimised across the site, enabling extensive Wi-Fi coverage with secure and segmented service for staff, players, students, and
visiting guests. The Wi-Fi extends to the pitches, where cameras on a gantry can capture and stream matches for live broadcasts as required.

Advanced Threat Protection uses Automated Intelligence (AI) to dynamically detect and respond to attacks through a single, easy to use console.

“I can remotely access and manage the network from anywhere on any device” says Evren. It’s great to have excellent localised support from Advatek on hand, as and when I need it.”

Following the opening in September 2019, the centre is now fully operational and integrated into the Football Association of Wales and Glyndŵr University, who use
the site for their football degree courses.

Expectations and Delivery

Lucy Scott, Head of Facilities at the site says: “We have three pitches, two grass and one 3G, with pitch one having Wi-Fi coverage supporting player and coaching analysis. Inside we have a PlayerZone, an analysis room, lecture rooms and several meeting rooms that have large touch screen facilities that can also be used for
video conferencing.

We also have treatment rooms, changing rooms and an activation ‘warm up’ area with gym equipment. We have students who analyse tactics through video streaming, whilst commercial users, FAW staff and visitors are all busy using the other facilities. Our reliance on networking and connectivity is huge, it’s quite a setup here in Wrexham!”

Advatek also installed an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) solution that protects against ‘blips’ in the electrical power supply, ensuring service and systems remain operational.

“We’re delighted with the work done at Colliers Park” concludes Evren, “we’ve a secure and resilient infrastructure capable of scaling with us, as we continue to make advancements and grow the game in Wales.”

For more information contact our Specialist Team