Back in 1975, the Sports Council (now Sport England) came up with the concept of Centres of Excellence for potential international sportsmen and women. The idea was aimed at individuals rather than team sports.
In 1977, against much opposition, a small group of creative thinkers in the East Region Netball Association (ERNA), put together a successful proposal for a Netball Centre of Excellence. In 1978, the very first Centre was implemented and named by its participants CENTEX. This was supported by a very small grant for the Sports Council – Eastern Region, the rest coming from the East Region Netball Association. At that time the All England Netball Association (AENA) focus was on the national teams, who were the players of excellence. Therefore, CENTEX was administered and the shortfall funded by ERNA.
A small team of enthusiastic ERNA members was created and included Irene Beagles, Heather Crouch, Gerry Cornwell, Eileen Doyle, Brian Worrell, Alex Walker and Ann Miles. Based on the talented Under 21 player, from the outset, CENTEX was a success. In the first year, 1979, four participants achieved national squads. In 1980, there were five with two England Potential. In 1981, there were nine. And the numbers continued. Barclays Bank saw the potential to their business and in 1980 their Eastern Regional group support much of the shortfall in funding for three years. This provided much of the financial stability essential for a long term project such as this.
After 13 years of continued success, AENA (now England Netball) decided to create national Centres of Excellence to support the national squads. These then became the Talent Development Programme centres, one in each Region of today.
Some of the documents from the 1970s and 1980s have been scanned in for anyone who is interested. Also there are some photos of some of the squads and the Barclays Bank involvement.