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Ferenc Puskás Football Academy
One of Europe's biggest youth football centres was inaugurated on what would have been the 80th birthday of Ferenc Puskás.
Lying 40 kilometres from Budapest, the youth education centre in Felcsút is named after Ferenc Puskás and was opened on 1st April 2007, the 80th birthday of the most well-known Hungarian. This took place with the permisson of the Puskás family and since then they have actively supported the initiiative. The academy's founder who is from Felcsút, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, announced that "the Puskás Academy will firstly nurture people who in addition play football outstandingly well."
The curriculum is tailored to football in the academy but elevated language-learning is used so the most talented youngsters can develop the strength of their sporting personality. The infrastructure for all this was in place at the start, but has expanded considerably over the years; the large house previously used for sewing was completely rebuilt and using the plans of the local school architect Imre Makovecz is now the halls of residence for 50-60 academy pupils. The technical and medical centre were opened at the same time in 2009 and this was followed in 2010 by the completion of the impressive new, Makovecz-inspired wing which is home to the restaurant, kitchen, communication department, editorial desk of FourFourTwo magazine and the imposing meeting room with round table.
The developments did not stop there though; a new college buidling was built on the other side of Fő utca which houses up to 30 final-year students in apartments. The number of football pitches is continually growing; the system of practice pitches which serves the young footballers with two artificial and five natural grass pitches also includes Hungary's only two-star, FIFA-quality artificial playing and training area. In spring 2012 work started on a 3,500-capacity mini-stadium, again based on the designs of renowned architect Imre Mackovecz, which was completed in 2014 and in the plans of which there is provision for an enclosed pitch to facilitate winter training sessions. All this would mean the academy in Felcsút would be Europe's biggest youth football education centre.
It is now also the home of Puskás' heritage; in November 2011 the leadership of the academy announced that Puskás' descendents had decided that his huge collection of artefacts relating to his football career which was previously stored in Spain - trophies, photographs, honours, personal items contained in 20 huge metal containers - would form the basis of the Puskás Institute's collection which buys relics from Hungarian football history.
On the day of the return of the Puskás collection it was also announced that the football-related artefacts owned by Árpád Csanádi, the legendary Hungarian who was a member of the International Olympic Committee, had been entrusted to the academy by his widow and his son. Naturally the priority will continue to be the football; every year since 2008 the institute has organised the PUSKÁS-SUZUKI CUP Under-17 youth football tournament together with Hungary's biggest car manufacturer, an event which has grown to be one of the age group's most prestigious club competitions of each year and has constantly featured teams from Real Madrid CF, Panathinaikos, Honvéd and hosts the Puskás Academy.