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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 2 October 2009
Mark Field
Footballing Field puts FA academy efforts on the spot

MARK Field has got football on the brain.
A few weeks back the Conservative MP and Bury fan (aren’t the Tories supposed to support Chelsea) put his name to an audacious bid to have England swoop in on South Africa’s World Cup bid.
Now he is calling for a root-and-branch reform of the Football Association’s academy system – claiming we are leaving a generation of teenagers on the scrapheap.
He has called the current system of discarding English “talent” at 16, replacing them with more technically gifted foreigners
“short-sighted”, blasting clubs for recruiting so many youngsters in the first place if they are only going to “shatter dreams”.
Diary wonders if Mr Field, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, was perhaps kept out of the team at as a boy at Reading School by some sort of foreign legion?
Writing on his constituency website he said: “Attracting young foreign schoolboys to fill the void is a potentially dangerous and socially irresponsible practice, particularly if clubs are found to be enticing foreign parents to part with their children through extravagant financial incentives.”
He added: “The FA must no longer accept the Premiership as a billionaire’s playground.
“As a consequence we cannot leave the responsibility of safeguarding our academies and youth players to the clubs themselves.
“Throughout national life there is an increasing realisation that we are letting down teenagers by a failure to instil values and promote skills-based training. For the sake of our national game let us hope that the footballing authorities will rise to their new challenge.”

Hirst has a thirst for work that’s out of this world

LOVE him or hate him, Damien Hirst provokes superlatives.
No longer will he be overshadowed by the £50 million diamond encrusted disco ball, because it is his paintings that will get the attention at his latest exhibition.
No Love Lost: Blue Paintings, opens at the Wallace Collection in Marylebone on October 14.
It marks the artist’s return to the solitary practice of painting.
Diary doubts he needs a ego-boost but if he does, he can bask in the glory of becoming one of the few living artists to exhibit at the gallery.
Ahead of the opening he said: “I’ve chosen to show my new paintings here because I love the fact that it is a family collection.
“It’s like a world away from the world.
“My new works somehow feel like they belong here with other works and objects from other times.”

Space at a premium in a tight corner

EVER needed a can opener to get out of a parking space or three people to guide you out of a perilously tight spot?
Well if you live in Soho or have been unlucky enough to visit the NCP car park in Brewer Street you can probably sympathise.
It has just been nominated as one of the top 10 worst car parks in the whole of the UK in a new poll because of its minuscule spaces. Built in 1929, the art deco car park, which is actually a listed building, is mainly used by theatregoers who are relieved to find a parking space near Shaftesbury Avenue.
It might be an “important example of early motoring history” but that’s no consolation to motorists whose only sense of history will be stirred by the crumbling bollards, weeds and spaces built when Mini Cooper’s were the equivalent of gas guzzlers.

Hope for all you would-be scientists

WHO said exam results were everything?
The Royal Institution in Mayfair, one of the world’s most pre-eminent scientific bodies, is opening a specialist centre to inspire children to get interested in science, and the man who has been tasked with the job spectacularly failed his A-levels.
David Porter got an O grade in his physics and Fs in his mathematics and biology. Quite a setback you would think. But not one to let failure stand in his way, Mr Porter retook his exams, and won a place at Oxford to study teaching at the ripe old age of 31. After 15 years as a physics teacher, he is now project manager of the L’Oreal Young Scientist Centre at the Royal Institution.
There is hope for all of us it seems.

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