Over the last three years, the Scotland men’s and women’s youth teams along with the Scotland Women’s National Team have played international matches in Pinatar, Spain.
As part of a standardised best practice approach, Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay has utilised the facilities of the Pinatar Arena and surrounding hotels in Murcia to create the perfect environment for Scotland to succeed.
Since 2017 Scotland have played more than 25 games at the Pinatar Arena against teams from all over the globe including Brazil, Chile, Russia and Japan.
Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “When I joined the Scottish FA I analysed the seven national teams that fall under my remit and there was a sense of randomness in terms of where we played our warm-up games for competitive qualifiers.
“We usually have friendly game windows in February/March and September/October and there didn’t seem to be any joined up thinking in terms of where we went, who we played against, along with the finances that are attached to all of the trips.
“There is now a consistency of knowing that the travel to San Pedro Del Pinatar is straightforward and the standard of training pitches, accommodation and food is of a good quality.
“We come to Spain out of season and the weather is perfect for our teams as a training destination.”
Other countries around the world have followed Scotland’s lead and have taken a similar approach in particular the Scandinavian and eastern European nations who also have challenges with weather.
Mackay said: “I visited various training grounds and hotels across Spain to see what would be an ideal fit for our teams.
“40 minutes away from Alicante Airport we discovered a hidden gem in San Pedro Del Pinatar which has become an ideal training camp locations for the national teams.
“The hotels are fantastic, as are the seven training pitches, the gym, swimming pool and the Pinatar Arena, where we play our games.
“Through a combination of ourselves using it and other circumstances, the Spanish youth teams are now utilising the facility. It has the rubber stamp from the Spanish squads which shows the quality of the facilities available.”
Along with the quality of facilities, another endearing feature of the training base is the ability to attract top quality opposition to test the Scotland teams who travel to Spain.
“We’ve been able to play a variety of countries including Belgium, Spain, France and Brazil which has benefitted all of our teams in terms of their development as they have tested themselves against different systems, styles and cultures,” Mackay said.
“We have a standardised way of working model for all of our teams so they know there is consistent quality whenever we play our warm-up events.
“Both the owner of the Pinatar Arena and IAST SPORTS, who help arrange the games, have been a fantastic asset for the Scottish FA in the last three years and the benefits are untold in terms of the quality of opposition we’ve faced, in great conditions.
“This is a standardised approach to best practice which has improved our players immensely.
“There’s a specific reason why we’re out here and this is a long term vision to keep playing top opposition and in turn improving our players across the board.”
Three of the best in Pinatar
Scotland Under-19s 1-1 Spain Under-19s: February 2019
Scotland 1-0 Brazil: April 2019: