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Saturday, 11 November 2017 10:51

The unknown damage caused from the touchline

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Every weekend all over the world millions of parents, children and coaches set off for their weekly sporting ritual 'Match Day'. Many will follow the same process each week and will never question their routine or behaviour.
 
Many of these parents and coaches are well intentioned, trying to support their child and their team through match situations totally unaware of the damage they may be doing by overly involving themselves before and after but crucially during the game itself.
 
I say that they are unaware because if they are not the current climate on the sidelines is far worse than I currently fear.
 
This morning I carried out a little experiment at an Under 8 grassroots football match in the UK.  I counted the number of tactical instructions yelled from the sideline by parents and coaches to the children.  There were 134 yelled out in 40 minutes of play.  I must stress that this did not include positive praise.
 
Now imagine as adults if we were embarking on a task and during this time we were being yelled new instructions, in this case approximately four a minute.  Now imagine on top of that, that some of these instructions were also contradictory.  I believe that not only would we struggle to concentrate but we would struggle to make the correct decisions that we were originally carrying out.  Just think how this must feel for a child actively involved in a sporting situation?
 
If parents and coaches are not aware of the damage they are doing by directing play and yelling tactical instructions from the touchline then I hope that this article will give them something to mull over.
 
Caught up in the excitement and emotion of a game, many parents and coaches feel that they are really helping and supporting their children whilst watching by shouting technical or tactical instruction.  Whilst this may on occasions in the short term prove successful there are major long term implications of this for the player.
 
1. It reduces problem solving skills
2. It decreases decision making skills
3. It reduces creativity in young players
4. It reduces the child's enjoyment
5. It increases the pressure on the child
6. It increases anxiety in the child
7. It prevents children from mastering life skills
8. It decreases the ability of the child to cope independently(particularly if the parent and the coach are not around)
 
Bearing all this in mind it is important that we then generate an understanding of how all of this is linked together with the behaviour that we are displaying.  The following infographic from our friends at believeperform.com gives us a very powerful visual image.
 
 
My message to parents:
 
Are you shouting tactical instructions on the sidelines?
 
If your answer is, “Yes,” then stop. Stop now.
 
I can already hear you justifying why. I can already hear you rationalising your particular approach. I can hear you because I could be you. I am you. I want to right the wrongs for my child. I want him to score. I want him to feel joy in victory. I want him to avoid the pain of losing. I want him to know I am there, that I love him, that I am his biggest fan.
 
But, let me ask you:
 
Do you think it helps?
 
It does not.
 
No justifications, no intelligent counter arguments. No nonsense. Screaming and shouting tactical instructions is bad. It is that simple. I did not make it up.
 
My message to coaches:
 
The above still applies however there can be a little bit of flexibility if you are trying to assist your team and individuals but it should be a very measured approach.
 
We have a number of parents who contact us who have been told by organisations what they would like them to do and how to behave but then they have to watch the coach do exactly the opposite.  Coaches must be great role models for parents and help create the right environment for the children by leading from the front.  Parents will then follow.
 
With positive support only on the touchlines can we regain control of an environment that is in real danger of spiralling out of control.  In its current climate the only people who are suffering in the long term are the people who we love and want to achieve the most; the children.
 
Article courtesy of Gordon MacLelland, from Working With Parents in Sport. Find them at the links below:
 
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 01:59

The Next Step: Young Saints

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Tommy Wright continues to work miracles at St Johnstone as the Perth club competed in Europe for the fifth time in six seasons and now the Saints are looking at the future to continue this trend.
 
The head of St Johnstone’ youth academy, Alistair Stevenson, believes the club are now improving and attracting the best footballers in the Perthshire region: “This is the first time since we started the programme that we’ve had that kind of number coming through from the academy. The problem in Perth was that the talent was probably always there, but they weren’t exposed to the same level of training and playing.”
 
These five players have featured for the development side and will hope to feature in the first team in the coming years and join the likes of Ally McCoist and Stevie May in making their mark at St Johnstone at a young age.
 
Jamie McKenzie
Part of the Under 17 squad that went 2016 unbeaten, McKenzie is a Perth born midfielder that has joined up with the under 20 development squad for the 2017/18 season. He featured, and scored in St Johnstone’s Bill Tracey Memorial Shield victory over Vale of Earn at Market Park in Crieff.
 
Shaun Struthers
Another member of the unbeaten Under 17 side, Struthers, like McKenzie is a Perth born midfielder that came on for the last ten minutes in St Johnstone’s Under 20s side defeat to Aberdeen in the first round of the Irn Bru Cup. He played in a friendly against Manchester United at McDiarmid Park back in 2015 where he had an effort on the stroke of half time go just over the bar.
 
Euan O’Reilly
The right-sided midfielder from Auchterarder, O’Reilly featured for Scotland in the 2017 Centenary Shield as the Scots beat Wales and the Republic of Ireland in the competition. Signing a two-year contract, O’Reilly was another member of the squad that played in the friendly against Manchester United and was unlucky not to score with the last kick of the game.
 
Ben Quigley
Another player to have signed a professional contract at St Johnstone from Auchterarder, Quigley was another member of the unbeaten under 17 side and also featured in the friendly against Manchester United at McDiarmid Park back in 2015.
 
Ross Sinclair
The youngest player out of the five to sign a professional contract, Sinclair only needs to look at current Saints goalkeepers, Zander Clark, for proof that you can graduate from the youth side to the first team. From Scone, he has been involved in the Scotland national development setup and Sinclair is tipped highly by the head of the Saints Youth Academy, Alistair Stevenson.
 
Stevenson: “It’s great news to know that St Johnstone have one of the best young goalkeepers in the country. He is a good height, very agile and has a fantastic commitment towards his training – so he has all the attributes to become a top goalkeeper in the future.”
Monday, 25 September 2017 02:56

Feature: Fuelling your child's ego

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Large amounts of money spent on swanky football kit and boots, vast use of hair products to make them look like mini professionals and lavish praise being heaped on them by parents regardless of their performance.  How much damage are we doing to our children and their long term development by fuelling their ego?
 
The big question is ‘Is it the child’s ego’ or ‘is it the parent’s ego?’
 
What started off as just trying to get our children involved in some physical activity has morphed into something completely different, the moment they show a modicum of ability parents are certain their child will become the next great star.
 
This is itself is dangerous, even more so when their progress is documented on social media for all to see. What happens at the point where they fail? At some point they will – it’s part or growing and learning.
 
Going back many years ago there was not as much organised sport.  Parents used to drop children off and leave them in the care of coaches and go and do something for themselves.  A lot of the sport was unwatched, players and referees were not shouted at and the whole experience was about fun and playing with your mates.
 
How many of us as families, now have our young people at the centre of the universe based around achieving something (however minor) in a chosen sport?
 
No budding young sportsman or indeed an adult elite performer should ever be satisfied with what they are achieving, once a challenge is completed they should be looking at the next step to improve further.  The most current example of this in a solitary sport is that of Andy Murray who has worked tirelessly in the pursuit of excellence over many years and deservedly deserves to top the world tennis rankings.  Once he became the best in Britain, he did not rest on his laurels, stop working hard and say look at me I have made it.
 
Instead he found the next goal to conquer the world rankings and I am sure now that he has achieved this that he will be looking to add more grand slam titles to his name as well as hold onto that ranking for many years to come.
 
As parents our attitude and behaviour to creating this type of sportsman is crucial if we want to see our children succeed not just in sport but also in life.  It is about us creating a culture that allows a growth mindset in our children not just for sport but for everything they participate in.
 
As parents we need to create a society for our children that fosters this environment.  Telling our child they are brilliant encourages a fixed mindset, a mindset that when the challenges become tougher and they no longer feel brilliant that many children just give up and fall by the wayside.
 
If however, we can praise effort and hard work our children will take this on board and learn from challenges therefore increasing their abilities and achievement in the long term as opposed to the short term.  
 
We need to offer our children the challenges, we also need to see that mistakes are part and parcel of learning and we should see ourselves that mistakes are opportunities to learn and our children need to see it that way as well.
 
If we make a big deal of mistakes then our children will never attempt the same thing again, as a result there is no way they can continue to grow and improve as they will be limiting their capabilities.
 
Likewise, if we do nothing but fuel their ego at a young age their chances of long term success remain a long way from their reach.

This article has been written by Gordon Maclelland of www.parentsinsport.co.uk. They can also be followed on Facebook @wwpis and on twitter [email protected]
 
 
The first round of fixtures in the City of Glasgow Cup is in the books. The tournament sees Glasgow’s four clubs: Celtic, Queen’s Park, Partick Thistle and Rangers go head to head at Under 17s level, in a group format between August and March for the right to lift the prestigious trophy.
 
Rangers stormed to the top of the table with a comfortable victory over The Spiders at the Rangers Training Centre, a week after current holders Celtic came out on top in a seven-goal thriller against the Jags at Lennoxtown.
 
City of Glasgow Cup: Round One
 
Celtic 4-3 Partick Thistle
 
Rangers 8-0 Queen's Park
 
The Light Blues sported a side that featured many recent Scotland youth internationals including the likes of Zac Butterworth, Kyle McLelland, and Dapo Mebude, Nathan Patterson and Josh McPake but it was Matty Yates who attracted most of the attention with a second half hat-trick.
 
The Hoops looked to have Thistle dead and buried at 3-1 but the Firhill side showed no signs of giving up, and fought back to 3-3 before Kieran McGrath grabbed his second goal of the day in the final minute.
 
Round Two, due to take place in October, will be dominated by the first Old Firm clash of the tournament as Celtic and Rangers face off at Lennoxtown, and should there be a winner the group will have an outright leader. Partick and Queen’s will both be looking to put their first points on the board before they face the Old Firm sides again in November. Their match is scheduled to be played at Lochinch.
 
Rounds Three and Four will be played in November and December respectively, and the latter will see the reversal of the first round of fixtures.
 
Rounds Five and Six both take place in February, and Rangers and Celtic will return to action against one another at the Rangers Training Centre while Queen’s and Partick play at Lesser Hampden. The last round has Celtic hosting Queen’s Park and Partick hosting Rangers.
 
Remaining fixtures:
 
Round Two

Wednesday October 11, Lennoxtown, 7.00pm 
Celtic v Rangers
 
Friday October 13, Lochinch, 7.15pm 
Partick Thistle v Queen's Park 
 
Round Three
 
Wednesday November 8, Lesser Hampden, 7.30pm 
Queen's Park v Celtic 
 
Wednesday November 8, Rangers Training Centre, 7.30pm 
Rangers v Partick Thistle
 
Round Four
 
Friday December 8, Lochinch, 7.15pm 
Partick Thistle v Celtic 

Wednesday December 13, Lesser Hampden, 7.30pm 
Queen's Park v Rangers
 
Round Five
 
Wednesday February 7, Rangers Training Centre, 7.30pm 
Rangers v Celtic

Friday February 9, Lesser Hampden, 7.30pm 
Queen's Park v Partick Thistle
 
Round Six
 
Thursday February 22, Lennoxtown, 7.00pm 
Celtic v Queen's Park 

Friday February 23, Lochinch, 7.15pm 
Partick Thistle v Rangers
 
The City of Glasgow Cup is organised by the Glasgow Football Association and sponsored by City Refrigeration Holdings Ltd.
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 10:11

The goal that inspired a generation: 10 years on

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“It was late in the second half and I had been playing up front on my own. It was tiring and chances were few and far between. As the ball came to me, I was ready to turn on it and knew I was going to shoot if nobody was pressing me. I turned, took a touch, and then luckily for me I caught it perfectly.”
 
You don’t need to be a football anorak to tell which goal James McFadden is referring to. It is without a doubt the most iconic Scotland national team goal of the last decade. That night in Paris was the pinnacle of a career, which began taking shape nearly twenty years earlier. 
 
“I first began playing organised football when I was about 7. I went along to Celtic North Boys Club, but they only had an Under 10s team. This meant I could only train, but I went along every week anyway. It did me good to play with lads a few years older than me.
 
“I progressed to playing with Celtic Boys Club and then went to Motherwell when I was around 12. At the time, you could play with your boys club at the weekend and with the pro club midweek. I kept playing with my boys club and moved onto West Park United.
 
“It was at West Park that I worked with one of my favourite coaches, Bert Rowan. Bert, who sadly passed away whilst I was still at the club, loved the Dutch ‘Total Football’. He worked you hard on the training ground, but it paid off. We were playing brilliant football, winning all sorts of competitions and enjoying ourselves.
 
“I was also playing for the Glasgow Schools select squad. Chris Burke was in the team and I remember being impressed by his talent. Even then, you could tell he had a great chance of making it at the highest level.
 
McFadden was given the opportunity to move to Hearts and he grasped it, signing schoolboy forms with the Edinburgh club. However, Hearts required him to give up boys club football – something the hungry young winger wasn’t prepared to do, so he returned to his boys club and to Motherwell. A few years later he broke through to the Well first team and the rest is history.
 
James went onto a successful and exciting, at both club and international level. However, McFadden still places one moment from his youth career alongside any moment of glory from his professional years. 
 
“I was playing for West Park and it was a league deciding game against one of our rivals. We had been working on a short corner routine at training all season. Although it was a big match, we gave it a shot. A couple of passes and the ball was worked to me on the angle of the area. I had a shot and it went in, which gave us the league title.”
 
When asked if it was anything like his winning goal against Holland in 2003, McFadden modestly shrugs, “aye, now you mention it, I suppose it was similar.”
 
Before bringing the interview to a close, we couldn’t resist asking one last time about THAT goal. 
 
“We had been training in the stadium the night before and, at international level, you play with the chosen footballs of the home team. The balls the French had selected were moving everywhere. I thought to myself – ‘if I get the chance to shoot tomorrow, I’m going for it’.
 
“It was a tough game and France were coming on strong as they pushed for the winner. I’d been putting in a fair shift up front by myself and was beginning to tire. I knew if a chance for a shot came along, I was going to have a hit. The goal kick was a lengthy one and the French player misjudged it.
 
“My first touch was decent, it killed the ball and allowed me to swivel. I took a touch out in front and it looked like the centre half was going to charge, but he backed off. Then I hit it.”
 
And in one strike of a football a nation erupted with joy and a generation of young Scottish players started to dream.  
 
(Gary Curneen, left, during a visit to Hibernian when he took time out from his busy schedule in the USA).
 
Here at YFS we speak to a variety of people, all walks of life and who perform all sorts of roles for the sake of the beautiful game, we were lucky enough to have someone different along to have a conversation. Gary Curneen is the current head women's soccer coach at Cal State University, Bakersfield, and the founder of Modern Soccer Coach Education. His role is full-time in nature at a college in the USA who compete at the Division I level. When asked about the role itself, he said: “Like most people in the game I am passionate about developing players, teams, to succeed on and off the field.”
 
But how does the girls game in America operate, and how does it compare to the rapidly growing equivalent in Scotland?
 
“I'm not familiar with the Scottish landscape so can't compare. The girls game is huge in the States and the players are fortunate enough to have huge amount of opportunities with both games and training. The college game is the destination for most top players and it becomes a full-time environment with training every day and access to top facilities and full-time coaches.” 
 
Curneen originally played in the US, once his playing career was completed he continued life at a coaching capacity for an additional two years. “I originally was going to go into the business world and corporate America but got cold feet. My college coach gave me an opportunity to stay on and help him out, along with getting my masters in business and administration and I took it." 
 
After settling into the role he mentioned that “I realized I had a completely wrong perception of what coaching entailed." He continued: "I got introduced to tactics, systems, training models, science, psychology and was hooked.” He is now owner of a UEFA A licence thanks to the services of the FA in Ireland.
 
Gary has added to this by writing a book Modern Soccer Coach 2014 adding his own take on what he says "sets the greatest coaches apart in today’s game and how to create a culture of excellence within a programme.”
 
So overall the girls game appears to be rich in opportunities, in Scotland the girls game is catching up with more and more clubs linking up with their mens equivalent, more and more work is being done creating the pathway from the younger age groups all the way through to the senior team. “I think cultures in the US and UK could learn a lot from each other. Players in the US excel in the physical side of the game and I think with more resources and funding in the women's game in the UK, it will allow Scotland to continue to excel.” 
 
Adding to that he also mentioned that he had recently came along to have a look at the women’s game in Scotland. “I was there in February and visited Hibs and Celtic ladies teams. I really enjoyed it and was very impressed by the level and the coaching.
 
"Hopefully I can come back more often."
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 12:24

From Saughton Park to Scotland international

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Scotland’s Under 21s take on the Netherlands tonight in the first match of their UEFA European Championship qualifying group. In the squad are some notable first-timers: new West Bromwich Albion signing Oliver Burke and Celtic up-and-comer Anthony Ralston. These players both have stories worth telling. Burke’s combined transfer kitty is in the lofty region of £30m already, and Ralston was invited to train with the full squad ahead of the Lithuania match. But Jason Kerr, a name that might not stand out on paper, has perhaps an even more remarkable story to tell on his journey to the national set up. The Penicuik-born starlet shone at boys club level and has enjoyed a spectacular rise to the top level in just three years.
 
Kerr starred for a Tynecastle side alongside his twin brother, Gregor, which reached five Scottish Youth FA Cup finals between 2010 and 2014 and won three. In the 2014 edition, Kerr grabbed a late – as in last minute of extra time late – equaliser to keep his side’s hopes of a trio of cup wins on the cards. But he and his team mates were to suffer the heartbreak of a penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Antonine FC, a team Kerr would probably describe as a nemesis during his youth career. 
 
But the mark of a proper footballer, or indeed any athlete, is how they bounce back from adversity and Kerr proved he was up to the task. His stellar individual form at Saughton Park continued and on July 1 2015, exactly one year and two months after that painful defeat in the Scottish Cup final, he was signed up by St Johnstone.
 
Kerr has made his mark for the Saints as a central defender, as opposed to the box-to-box, all-action midfielder he was known to be at Tynecastle and at Eskmill beforehand. A trawl through the YFS archives finds descriptions of Kerr darting down the left wing and charging into the box and one would assume these situations are less common now.
 
After two loan spells at East Fife, one of which yielded a League Two winners medal, Kerr returned to Perth in the summer and signed a two-year contract extension. Kerr said that the new deal provided him with the impetus to make his way into the St Johnstone first team, be that from within the confines of McDiarmid Park or on loan at a club further up the pyramid.
 
“It’s great to have the next two years sorted and during that time it’s my intention to push myself into the manager’s plans at McDiarmid Park,” he told Scotzine.
 
“I’ve really enjoyed my involvement with East Fife and it’s given me loads of experience but I’m ready to step up now and whether that’s another loan club further up the leagues or with Saints, I’ll just need to wait and see.”
 
The latter option is where Kerr finds himself now, with Championship side Queen of the South. And, perhaps to some surprise for a defender, he scored a goal on his first full start away to Falkirk.
 
It might be even more of a surprise to see him score tonight, but maybe those charges into the box aren’t so rare after all.
 
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 09:23

The Next Step: Young Buddies

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Every year across Scotland, a handful of young men fulfil their boyhood dreams when they sign full-time for a football club. Here at YFS we're putting the spotlight on the new kids on the block who've just made the grade from youth academy level to the professional game, as they make the next step in their promising careers.
 
As St Mirren gear up for their second year in the Championship, Jack Ross will be hoping to improve on his side’s performance last season. Narrowly avoiding the relegation playoff on goal difference, Saints fans will be hoping for more from their team this year.  
 
In recent years the Buddies academy has produced real gems like John McGinn and Kenny McLean. Allan McManus, Head of the Youth Academy, has recently given three academy players their first professional contracts, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Scottish internationals. 
Speaking to the St Mirren club website, McManus said: “They are a fantastic bunch. As a team they did really well last season in the Under 17's league.
 
"The biggest thing for me outwith their quality is that they really want to be professional footballers. I don't think people realise when they come in here how hard you have to work to get to the levels required to be a professional footballer.
 
"There's no doubt with all the lads that we've brought in from the academy that it is what they want to do with their careers and they have that discipline and single-mindedness to improve and aspire to get to the first team as quickly as possible."
 
Cameron Breadner
 
 
The left-footed 16-year-old striker signed his professional contract with St Mirren in May and has been playing and scoring goals in the development league for the Paisley side. Breadner raised eyebrows with a spectacular late goal against Dundee back in April, highlighting the forward from Paisley’s potential.
 
While playing for Linwood Rangers YC, Breadner helped inspire the team to victory in the 2013 Under 13's Scottish Cup final, where he scored before Linwood eventually won the game 2-1 after extra time. The striker started the PJ&DYFL Winton Murdoch League Cup final the same year where Rangers went on to lose late on. Breadner was also part of the Paisley and District Schools team that lost the SSFA’s Under 15's National Cup on penalties in 2014.
 
Writing about his contract on Twitter, Breadner said: “Absolutely delighted to have signed my first professional contract with St Mirren. Looking forward to this next stage in my football career.”
 
Matthew Reilly
 
 
Back in May, Reilly signed his first professional contract with St Mirren and will be hoping to make a big impression on the St Mirren Under 20 team. The 17-year-old left winger has already represented Scotland, having been called up to the Scottish Schools’ U18 squad in December of last year.
 
Reilly played for his school team, St Ninian’s High School, regularly throughout his time there and was part of the side that won two Scottish Shields and eight Paisley and District League and Cups in just four years.
 
In May, Reilly – who comes from Glasgow - posted on Instagram, saying he was “buzzing to sign a new professional contract at St Mirren”.
 
David Wilson
 
 
16-year-old shot-stopper Wilson is a local Paisley lad and will hoping to break into the Saints’ development team this season. Wilson was part of the St Mirren U20s side that lifted the Portland Cup back in June and will hope to continue impressing McManus.
 
Wilson was called up for the Scotland U15s squad back in 2015 and impressed during his 30 minute display against Chile, having previously played for the U14s. The goalkeeper is a member of the Grange Academy SFA Performance Academy, which counts Dean Hawkshaw and Robbie Muirhead among its alumni.
 
Wilson clearly has great potential, evidenced by the fact that he is a year younger than many of his teammates. Speaking to the club website, McManus said the step up to the U20s was “massive…especially for guys like David who have actually came in a year younger than the rest of them”.
 
After signing his contract in May, Wilson posted on Twitter: “Proud moment signing my first full time professional contract with St Mirren. Thanks to everyone who's helped me, can't wait to get started.”

 
Saturday, 02 September 2017 16:06

Feature: The car journey home

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Highly successful college athletes in the USA were questioned as to what was their worst memory of sport growing up.  The No. 1 response was ‘The Car Journey Home.’
 
Every week up and down Scotland the car journey home has now extended to the walk back to the car, the car journey home and the return back to the house.
 
It can be heard every weekend straight after a match from the Borders to the Highlands, where more often than not the dad delivers advice on the way back to the car... they can’t even wait until they get into the car.
 
Why did you do that there?  Do you remember when you got the ball off the goalie, why didn’t you pass it down the wing?  Why didn’t you mark properly at the corner?
 
All the child is doing more often than not is looking down or drinking their water pretending to really listen when actually they probably wish the ground would swallow them up.
 
Even Scottish journalist Graham Spiers who took the view that a child should not be pushed during his career in journalism until he had his own children acknowledged, ‘But I find I cannot handle his faults. If he misses a shot, or pulls out of a tackle – as I did for 20 years as a young footballer – I’m filled with contempt and disdain. On these occasions the car journey home can be pretty bleak.’
 
The car ride home is when the child just wants to quietly let the game sink in - whether a win or a loss.
 
They know if they've played well or badly. You don't need to tell them.
 
It is their game and it is their invitation for you to be part of it.
 
It is not easy for a parent but we must remember that the sole reason that our children play sport and will stay involved in sports is fun.
 
Children want you to be a parent when they finish playing not a second coach.  It is very little wonder that many children like their grandparents watching them play as more often than not the grandparents are very proud of them, smile at them and then at the end of the game tell them something along the lines of, ‘Well done- I loved watching you play!  Did you enjoy it?’.
 
Perhaps if you still feel the need to talk after a game to your child that you could maybe ask them some questions that allow the child to reflect on the game/session that they have just been involved in.
 
What were the best bits of the game for you today?  What did you think you did well?  Was there anything that you were not happy with?  What do you think you may need to work on to improve?
 
This at least allows you both to have a conversation, allows the conversation to be led by the child and guided by you.  No more than that, just because your child has let you in with a chat does it mean that you have to impart all of your knowledge on to them.
 
Or perhaps we all should take a step back, be proud of what our children do and simply say to them ‘I loved watching you play’.
 
This article has been written by Gordon Maclelland of www.parentsinsport.co.uk. They can also be followed on Facebook @wwpis and on twitter [email protected]
 
Thursday, 31 August 2017 00:36

The Next Step: Young Morton

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Every year across Scotland, a handful of young men fulfil their boyhood dreams when they sign full-time for a football club. Here at YFS we're putting the spotlight on the new kids on the block who've just made the grade from youth academy level to the professional game, as they make the next step in their promising careers

On the back of a stellar return to the Scottish Championship which included finishing in the play-off places, and reaching the semi-final of the Betfred Cup, the present at Greenock Morton looks rather promising. With a well-crafted blend of both experienced and youthful players Jim Duffy has managed to give fans of The Ton something to shout about.

The first team boasts an extensive array of home-grown talent, such as Jai Quitongo, Mark Russell and Michael Tidser, all of whom worked their way throughout the club from a young age.

Several players produced from Greenock have found success throughout the country, such as former-graduate Brian Graham, a Scottish League Cup and Championship winning striker who now plays his trade for Cheltenham Town after a spells at Hibernian and Ross County.

Perhaps the most noticeable academy product in recent times is once Scotland midfielder Neil Mccan, who enjoyed a successful career at Hearts and Rangers amongst other clubs, winning leagues and cups galore, and representing his country on 26 occasions.

But what does the future hold for the next generation of youngsters at Cappielow Park?

Ben Armour

Glasgow-born, the striker is a relative newcomer to Morton, having spent time at Queen’s Park as a youth player prior to his arrival. Before that, Armour spent his youth career playing for local side Cardonald Thistle.

In September of last year, Armour left The Spiders to join the academy at Morton, featuring in the team regularly throughout the course of the season.

After just less than a season in the development side, Armour made his first-team bow in April 2017, coming on as a late substitute in a league game against Dunfermline Athletic. The landmarks keep coming for the youngster as he scored his first senior goal in pre-season during the summer, netting in a pre-season win over Stenhousemuir.

Around the same time, the 19-year old penned his very first professional deal with the club, signing a contract extension until January of 2018.

Alexander Easdale

Another young-striker making his way through the club is Alexander Easdale. Born in Greenock, the local lad signed professional terms for the first time in the summer with a two-year deal.

Easdale began his youth career for local outfit Port Glasgow Juniors in his younger years, before Aberdeen came calling, a two-year stint at the club followed.

 After his spell up North, Easdale elected to move closer to home and signed for Greenock Morton, where he moved into the under 14 squad.

Recognised for his efficiency infront of goal and intelligent movement, the youngster made his debut for the development side as a substitute against Albion Rovers at Lennoxtown in April of this year, featuring in a 3-0 victory. The 18-year old has progressed right through the age groups under Head of Youth, Derek Anderson’s tutelage, and will be determined to take the next step into the first team.

With the support of over 26-staff members within the academy, including that of Anderson and director Warren Hawke, these two young strikers will be well-supported in their journey to make it to the professional game.

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