UEFA President Michel Platini has visited Israel for the official inauguration of the Shfayim technical and training centre – named Beit Hanivharot – which took place in Shfayim near Tel Aviv.
The high-quality facilities will host the national teams from youth to senior levels. The ceremony was attended by Mr Platini, culture and sports minister Limor Livnat and Israel Football Association (IFA) president Avi Luzon.
The centre was built with the help of the UEFA HatTrick assistance project. "We will make sure our youth players practise at the top level," said Mr Luzon. "The stars of the future will be the best athletes possible. My vision is that the game will be both quality and fun, and that the fans will derive enjoyment [from it].
"Renovated stadiums across the country will serve families and children. We want to make Israel a state of football. We have taken the first steps, and we will host the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in 2013. I have no doubt this is just the beginning."
Mr Platini, who was guest of honour at the event, said: "I am happy to be here, it is my responsibility as president of UEFA to help the association. We have invested a lot in these facilities and we will continue to do more for the Israel Football Association in the future.
"This [centre] is a good investment for the future, especially for young players," he added. "Football is a matter of patience and investment. If we will support young players, they will blossom."
Mrs Livnat said she was very impressed by the installations: "This project is very important. We have to create a different culture of football. We are planning to build 100 football fields. What good would it be if we did not have a culture of football and sport?
"Israel now has optimal training conditions and the tools for success," Mrs Livnat continued. "We have excellent conditions that meet international criteria – here we will be able to nurture Israel's next young talents.
"On this occasion, I would like to thank UEFA President Michel Platini," the minister went on. "Thank you for the decision to appoint us as hosts of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in 2013 and the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in 2015. These important decisions will enhance Israel's [football] status throughout the world."
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