The Lotus Training Centre: developing the next generation of football talent
The ongoing transformation of Lotus is being regularly reported in the automotive and business media, both in the UK and globally. Many publications have written accurately that more than £100m has been invested by Lotus in new facilities in its home market, much of it to ensure that Hethel, Norfolk – the home of Lotus since 1966 – remains the HQ for global sports car production.
Lotus is also supporting another Norfolk business – Norwich City Football Club – as part of a commitment to competitive sport that includes the recent Olympic track bike and Extreme E electric racing. Participating in the English Premier League, renowned as one of the richest and most competitive in the world, Norwich City is one of the UK’s best known football clubs and has a proud history of success.
Located just a few miles north of Hethel, the city of Norwich is a key hub for Lotus, home to Lotus Advanced Structures, the Lotus Learning Academy and warehousing for the entire Lotus aftersales business. Many Lotus employees live in and around the area, and come from generations of Norwich City fans.
Lotus and Norwich City is a very natural collaboration. The partnership joins two iconic high-performance Norfolk brands, both of which are highly passionate about commitment to hard work and displaying a winning spirit. Of course, it helps that both have yellow and green as their primary colours!
Earlier this month, Lotus Cars MD Matt Windle joined senior members of the Norwich City management team to officially open the players’ upgraded training facility, now renamed The Lotus Training Centre. Recent improvements to the site – in Colney Lane, Hethersett, just to the south-west of Norwich – include a new academy building, gym, first-team facilities and six state-of-the-art pitches.
The club’s youth organisation has also been renamed The Lotus Academy. All teams, including the first team whose matches are broadcast around the world, plus the various youth and women’s teams, have the Lotus roundel on the front of their shirts.
The most famous member of the Norwich City team doesn’t play on the pitch. Legendary TV chef Delia Smith is the majority shareholder, and as she cut the ribbon in front of numerous journalists and TV film crews she said just three words – “Thank you Lotus!”. The ribbon was being held in place by the doors of two stunning Lotus cars, a yellow Evija hypercar and a green Exige sports car. Also taking part were Delia’s husband, Michael Wynn Jones, and the club’s sporting director, Stuart Webber.
After the opening ceremony and lunch in the First Team Restaurant – the menu is carefully curated by Delia, of course – media guests were invited to witness players training with the newly-installed SoccerBot360 system. Norwich City is the first club in the UK to have this advanced training tool, which using a 360-degree projector screen and computer programmes to test players’ cognitive, observation and passing skills in a controlled indoor environment.
Keen football fan Matt Windle even had a go himself. “Lotus and Norwich City are a very natural fit,” he told the media. “Lotus is a brand born for and born out of high performance and competition, and with our sponsorship of the training centre and academy, this partnership focuses on development of talent for the future. With new tools such as the Soccerbot360, both of us share a desire for innovation and a commitment to hard work and a winning mindset. It’s also about Lotus putting something back into the community which has been our home since 1966.”