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Monday, 13 March 2017 16:52

Interview: Alan Burnett, grassroots referee

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Following the recent YFS TV Live Debate Show on grassroots refereeing in Scotland, we caught up with Alan Burnett. We asked the Category 5 member of the Glasgow Referees Association about all things refereeing. Read the interview below...
Tell us about your experiences with negative touchline behaviour
Negative behaviour on the touchline is a regular occurance. Referees are the usually targets but not always the sole person on the receiving end. It’s said to be a referee you need to have thick skin and that is certainly the case when you hear some of the shouts from the touchlines, which is just abuse sometimes for the sake of it.
What should a club's parental code of conduct include and what sanctions should there be for breaking it?
Parents when signing their son/daughter to a team should also have a form to sign, insisting their behaviour at the side of the park should be to encourage the players, be positive and allow the coaches to do their job, along with the referee as well. Any parent that steps out of line should firstly be giving a verbal warning one on one from the coaching staff. If it continues then they would be banned from being on the touchline and only able to sit in their car if dropping their child off. If they simply ignore and continue then them and their child are then asked to leave the club.
Should referees be required to provide more post-match analysis on the behaviour of a touchline, rather than just filing a report if they break the rules? (i.e. rewarding positive sportsmanship)
I would disagree with a referee being asked to add anything there and then, especially if the behaviour hasnt been great. However, I would agree that if a referee feels it’s worth noting down a positive thing from the game, such as respectful behaviour or such is that its beyond being a good sportsman, then they should be able to add it to any report, email or team line if there is a section for notes on there.
Tell us about your experiences with Scottish grassroots referees.
My own experience as a grassroots referee is more positive than negative, especially from personal point of view. It has given me more confidence, given me the opportunity to be able to manage difficult situations that other people don’t usually find themselves in and manage my time more with sending in team lines and misconduct forms. Doing these reports and emails has certainly improved my own literacy skills, having not left with a higher from school. Meeting new people has been a massive thing as well and made lasting friendships over the years of being involved. There is a phrase we use, ‘the referee family’, which it really is. The friendship and support you get, especially when you’re on your own for 90% of the time to do games, is invaluable.
What should a club/players/coaches be able to expect from their matchday referee?
Professionalism from the start. Showing up early, at least 40 minutes before kick-off. Dressed smart in either a shirt and tie, suit or even a presentation tracksuit that still enables you to be looking the part. Speaking to players and coaches in a courteous manner. To apply the laws of the game at all times to the best of their ability and knowledge. Get the big game changing decisions correct (i.e penalty decisions and sending offs). Minor errors are going to occu and to therefore move on and focus on the game.
In the USA, young players at the age of 14 are required to take a basic refereeing test. Those who pass are then required to referee 10 soccer sevens games, before they become qualified for paid work. This generates more young referees and makes it more affordable for Under 12 teams to have proper match officials in their transitional season. Would this work in Scotland?
Yes it would be a great idea. And it then allows the players to see it from a referee’s point of view and give back something to the younger players who are playing 7 a sides and getting ready for 11 a side football. It also means if we can get people interested in refereeing at a young age that we will generate a larger number of long term participation at grassroots and then onto the top leagues.
Should there be more education for players, coaches and clubs about the laws of the game?
Yes there should be. Referees participating in the league should be invited to a league meeting and given the chance to explain the rules and any changes. And to inform them what is expected from the referees from Hampden.
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 19:01

Scottish Youth FA suspend clubs for PVG failure

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A press release issued by the Scottish Youth FA on 8th March 2017 stated:
The Scottish Youth Football Association has confirmed that 18 of its 3,500 clubs have been suspended due to a failure to complete the necessary PVG checks for coaches and officials. 
The suspensions will affect around 350 of the 60,000 youths who participate in SYFA competitions, but it is anticipated that most of these will join other nearby clubs. 
The announcement comes after the 3,500 clubs across 39 leagues were warned last year that they would risk suspension unless they ensured their coaches undertook the mandatory vetting procedures which are an essential element of the SYFA's operations. 
SYFA chief executive David Little said: "We said late last year that clubs which do not expedite these compulsory checks would lose their member status and that those volunteers without a PVG certificate would be placed under a precautionary suspension. It is encouraging that the overwhelming majority of clubs take these responsibilities extremely seriously, but those that have not complied have now been suspended from all competitions. 
"It is disappointing that we have been forced to suspend these 18 clubs, but player safety is our number one priority and we were determined to ensure that a strong signal was sent out across the country that these standards are non-negotiable. 
"A total of 488 volunteer officials who have not completed PVG checks within three months of joining a club have been placed under precautionary suspension until such time as their checks are complete. It is a key principle of SYFA membership that, until they have been cleared by the Disclosure Scotland process, volunteers joining clubs are only allowed to participate in activities under the direct supervision of a PVG-checked coach or official, of which there are more than 15,400 registered with the SYFA."
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 15:51

Malky Mackay discusses 'Project Brave' plan

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(picture, Sky Sports)

The new Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay has outlined plans to increase the standards of players in youth academies throughout Scotland, as Project Brave, the Scottish FA’s development plan, begins to come into effect.

One of the biggest proposals is to reduce the number of elite academies across the Scotland, with the target being to reduce the current total of 29 down to 16. The number of elite players is also a concern, with Mackay aiming to take the total number down from just under 3000 to just over 1000 players. Some clubs may lose their elite status as a result of the proposal, as Mackay aims to maintain the very best standards.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Mackay said: “The 19-21 year olds, that where we are finding a problem. The elite youngsters are not getting enough football, they are not getting the chance to become prepared enough to become Scotland players, and first-team players for their club. I think that’s something that everybody has highlighted, and it is about how we fix that.”

He added: ““The markers that clubs are having is ‘how many first team players have come through their club, how many have gone out on loan, and how many have become Scottish internationals?’”

Other plans that Mackay wishes to implement is the return of reserve leagues within Scottish football, a league which has been defunct within the country since 2009. Amongst this, the former Cardiff City manager proposes the introduction of Fustal throughout Scotland during the winter months.

Mackay also spoke about the number of Scottish players currently playing first-team players in the country, and believes we could start to see the numbers improve: “In England last weekend, 30% of players in the Premier League last weekend were English, in a country of 60 million, and that’s how few English players were playing. A lot of countries have had various times in their history where they have struggled with this, we have also done that, and I think we have come out of the other side.

“We still have to strive to make our youngers players better, and get them playing competitive football against eachother at a high level.”

Mackay was speaking at schools throughout Scotland, as he outlined the plan to numerous young players around the country. The message is clear; keeping the very best players playing at the highest level possible, against the best opponents possible. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 00:50

Six young Scots taking Premier League 2 by storm

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This season Swansea have been spending time in the lower reaches of the English Premier League. However, underneath the glitz and glamour of the first team, there is no denying that but there are plenty of positives to take from the Welsh side’s U23 squad, who are currently seven points clear at the top of Premier League 2's second tier. Non more so than the growing Scottish contingency waiting patiently for opportunities to impress. Six of the all conquering squad are from north of the border. Jay Fulton, Stephen Kingsley, Oliver McBurnie, Botti Bia-bi, Ryan Blair and Adam King have all impressed to the point where they have secured deals to be part of the Swansea setup and collected some first team appearances in the process. 
Jay Fulton is a third generation footballer. His grandad Norrie Fulton scored the winning goal in the Scottish Junior Cup final for Pollok, and his dad Stephen who spent time with Hearts and Bolton Wanderers.  Jay started his professional career at Falkirk and made his first team debut at the age of 17, eventually reaching over a century of appearances. This impressive run secured him a two and a half year deal at the Welsh outfit. He opened his account in a 4-1 victory against Peterborough last August, and he has featured in the Premier League. His consistent performances earned him a new deal, keeping him at the Liberty Stadium until the summer of 2018.
Stephen Kingsley’s rise has been equally impressive. The 22 year old defender originally played for his local team, Riverside FC in Stirling, before he was added to Falkirk academy and subsequently impressed enough to secure a transfer to Swans. He eventually made his first team debut last January in a premier league match against Arsenal. His performances have also earned him a Scotland cap, coming on against France.  
Next in question is towering striker Oliver McBurnie. The former Bradford City youth has made an impact for Scotland at U19 and U21 level, and is getting ever closer to the Swansea first team. He scored twice on his EFL Cup debut earlier this season, and more recently won the Premier League 2 player of the month award.
Adam King has recently signed a new three-year contract which will keep him at the Liberty Stadium until the summer of 2019. Originally making a handful of appearances for Edinbugh club Hearts, the Scotland U21 international is thriving in his environment after loan spells at Southend and Crewe, boosting his development and netting five goals.
The final two subjects are Botti Bia-bi and Ryan Blair, both of which moved from the Falkirk side to link up with the development squad at Swansea. Bia-bi impressed at youth club Clydebank, before forcing himself into the first team picture at the Bairns. A six figure fee was involved in his move to Swansea, which is a sign of how much promise the London born striker has shown.
Four of the six have come from the ranks of Falkirk and technical director Alex Smith recently voiced his pride in seeing the young footballers making headway. An exciting future awaits for this batch of players and the Scottish football community will be keeping an eye out for what we all hope will be several international squad members in the years to come.
Next week, Scottish coaches from throughout North America will come together for the fourth annual meetup. The details are:
LOCATION: The JW Marriott Hotel, 900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015 (approx. 8-10 minute walk from the LA convention center)
DATE: Friday, January 13th, 2017 from 1:30pm to 3pm. (We will look to gather for a social that night too, details will be finalized at the meeting).
GUEST PANEL: Jim Fleeting (Scottish FA), Lachlan Cameron (Chairman of Ayr United, resident of the LA area), Colin Miller (Ex Rangers, Dunfermline & Hamilton Accies, now Head Coach of FC Edmonton) and one more TBC.
Last year the event welcomed 100+ North-American based Scottish coaches’ to the meeting and it looks forward to a great turnout again this year. Tunnock’s tea cakes and Irn Bru are on the prize list again!
For more information contact Eric McAleer on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Saturday, 17 September 2016 18:36

Stage set for Stephen Roy Memorial Tournament

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On Sunday 18th September, members of the youth football community will gather at Harmony Row's Sir Alex Ferguson Park for the first edition of the Stephen Roy Memorial Tournament.
Stephen Roy was only 18 years old when he tragically lost his fight with bowel cancer in July of this year.
Roy was a talented goalkeeper who had played for several teams in his career including his school football team Paisley Grammar, Harmony Row FC, the club he started at and enjoyed tours of Holland and England with, Greenock Morton pro youth, Rossvale FC and Glenvale Football Club. He was one of very few players who has been crowned a Scottish champion at both school (with Paisley Grammar) and club (with Rossvale) level. 
He was diagnosed with cancer in August last year and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Stephen wanted to give something back, during his fight he helped coach young goalkeepers through the John Hillcoat Academy.
While coaching young keepers during a training session earlier this season he collapsed on the pitch, suffering a cardiac arrest. John Hillcoat and Richard Nyguist performed CPR for 7 minutes until paramedics arrived, saving Stephen's life.
He was given the all clear and was on the mend when he was informed that the cancer had returned and there was nothing that could be done. Sadly, Stephen passed away in Accord Hospice on Sunday July 10th 2016.
Paisley Town Centre was brought to a standstill as Stephen's close friends and team-mates carried his coffin with his boots and gloves resting on top.
Family friends and club representatives have decided to organise this memorial football tournament annually in his name to ensure the memory of Stephen lives on. The tournament is being held at Harmony Row’s ground on the 18th of September 2016 and won’t be competitive, with the trophy to be presented to Stephen’s parents Helen and Ian and sister Nicola.
There will be lots of other activities going on to keep people occupied including bouncy castles, face painting, auction and a tombola with lots of great prizes.
The tournament schedule is as follows:
1pm - PGS v Glenvale AFC
2.25pm - Glenvale AFC v Harmony Row
3.50pm - Harmony Row v PGS AFC
Donations can be made on the day or by clicking here to visit the crowdfunding page. Any donations or sponsorships are greatly appreciated and all funds raised will be passed on to the Roy family..
A statement on the Scottish Schools FA website read:
The Scottish Schools FA is pleased to announce that following the Board meeting of the Scottish FA on 30th June the registration procedures have been amended to ‘recognise the rights of a CAS (Club Academy Scotland, formerly known as Pro-Youth) Player and his right to freedom of choice to play with his school and school friends/mates should he choose’.
The new rule now reads ‘An Amateur Player Age Group 10-17 registered with a Club in full membership of the Scottish FA or in membership of an Affiliated Association may also play with his school team.’
This change has been the result of a prolonged campaign by Scott Robertson and Willie Smith of Realgrassroots which has been supported by the Scottish Schools FA over the last 6 years.
Any young player in Scotland who feels he is being denied or pressured into NOT representing his school should contact John Watson, national secretary 0141-620-4570.
The Scottish FA have also introduced a Young Player’s Wellbeing Panel – which has been established to hear and adjudicate upon registration issues between a Young Player, Player under the age of 18, or their parent/carer and the Player’s Club.
Affecting more than 300,000 people in the UK and as many as 26,000 people in Scotland, a higher incidence rate than anywhere in the UK, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis are two of the main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Darren Fletcher, Scotland’s captain and West Brom midfielder, and Russell Martin, Scotland and Norwich defender, are two examples of fine footballers who have struggled with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Recently, YFS website has been over the story of Robbie Trevett, a 13 year-old from Hampden, who underwent surgery to remove badly affected parts of the intestines and will put his Crohn’s into remission for at least a couple of years. Hopefully, Robbie will be back to the field in around February or March after successful surgery.
Joining the battle against the diseases, Fauldhouse United coach, Steven Sharp, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s at the age of 12 in 2002. "It was my parents that noticed I was passing blood when I went to the toilet and I was going more frequent" said Steven. "So they took me to the GP who instantly referred me on to St John’s Hospital who then referred me to Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital.
"Since 2008 I have had three major bouts of surgery. It was in 2008 where I had came to the end of the road with all treatment and the only thing to allow me to have a quality of life was to have my full large bowel removed and have a Stoma (surgically constructed opening of the intestine onto the abdominal wall, over which a bag can be fitted and sealed to the skin)
"My day to day life can vary as with Crohn's its a rollercoaster journey. I tend to keep relatively OK, but do struggle in the winter with fatigue."
Despite the hardship that the disease can have, Steven says that youth and grassroots football as helped him greatly. "I have been involved in Junior football for nearly 10 years as a Sports First Aider and it has affected me at time with surgery, fatigue and just having general down days" he said. "Football though has been a sense of normality and given me a focus which has certainly continued in my role as coach at Fauldhouse United Under 16s.
"The lads, parents and carers and fellow coaches have been very supportive of me and my fundraising and awareness. When I have my down times I try to forget about how I am feeling and put my focuses into coaching to the best of my ability. This means helping develop the lads both individually and as a squad to progress to the best that they can do. I also feel due to my own experiences, I feel that I am more than equipped to not only deal with the practical side of coaching but also the emotion side of being a coach/mentor to the lads."
It has been just a couple of days past the awareness week for IBD, but Steven has been working constantly on his attempt to make it a more  well-known condition. Most recently Steven took part in a Santa bungee jump, raising over £300. He also added, "Russell (Martin) has very kindly backed my efforts. I have managed to raise over £10,000 for the charity in approximately 18 months." 
To find out more about Steven's fundraising, click here.
What is IBD
We spoke to the UK's leading charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK. They are leading the battle against Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
"We have dozens of free information sheets, booklets and guides that demystify Crohn’s and Colitis for anyone affected by them, including friends, family, medical professionals and even employers.
"For more than 35 years, we’ve been working with and for patients and their families, the nurses, doctors, and all those that work in healthcare that treat them, and the policymakers who can bring about change.
"We provide high quality information and support as well as fund and partner in life-changing research and campaign vigorously – for more knowledge, better services and more support for people affected by IBD.
For more information please visit www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk.
Monday, 23 November 2015 12:27

Norway Cup Important Registration Information

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Please fill out the form below to detail important information about your team travelling to the Norway Cup this summer. Please check over this information and ensure it is correct before submitting. Thankyou. 
Norway Cup Important Information
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