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Hutchie unveil new 'skills badge' initiative

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Edinburgh outfit Hutchison Vale have unveiled a new initiative which will hopefully put more players onto the professional pathway. Vale have produced many players over the years who have went onto play at the highest level and last night saw Heart of Midlothian midfielder Sam Nicholson in attendance to welcome the new idea.
The initiative is for the tots and kids playing at seven-a-side level. The badges are awarded from white through seven stages to gold for performing skills, fast footwork and technical ability. The kids are taught the skills at training and then given them as homework to practice and complete.
Each stage gets progressively harder and the skills focus on fast-footwork, technique and touch. The initiative is being developed to challenge the kids and to also add personal goals for them, with the added incentive of achievements and rewards for showing self development.
Malcolm McKenzie, who is a coach for the under 15's said, "...Compared to what has happened in the past, it was a case of one ball and shuttle runs for the players and then a match at the end.
“This new initiative is great and standing at the side looking at the players in attendance the balance and talent of some of the players is great.”
The plan behind the whole initiative is to get players on the professional pathway and maintain the proud history that Vale has of players going on to play at the highest level.
McKenzie added, “The number of boys who have made a career in football after being with Hutchie is brilliant. At one time there was over 100 boys who played professional football in Britain after being at Hutchison Vale so it is a great advertisement for the club and especially for Tam Smith who has done so much for the club.
“...All the kids are here tonight with a smile on their face and the fact that they are here tonight getting to learn new skills is brilliant.
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale have a game away to East Kilbride on Wednesday night with the prospect of Scottish Premiership side Celtic in the next round. McKenzie said, “It has been great for us all at the football club. When the draw was made the tie you look for is Celtic and we have a great chance to do so. We have had a great journey in the Scottish Cup so far and went to Division two side Montrose and got a victory.”
Sam Nicholson, who left Vale in 2007 for Hearts, spoke about his time at the club, saying “When I started at Hutchie, I was in the camps similar to what they have here tonight. They have some good coaches at the club and Tam Smith has got everything organised perfectly here and always has been."
“I think the new initiative will benefit Hutchison Vale in the future. There has been some terrific players brought through from the system here at Hutchison Vale in the past. I came through with Jason Cummings from Hibs and you can always tell from a young age that he was going to go onto bigger things.
“Hutchison Vale is a proper family club and everyone is close with each other and everyone gets on well with each other here at the club."
Nicholson also looked ahead to the big game for Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale tomorrow night away to East Kilbride and said, “It's these kind of games which inspire the young guys here at the club. No matter where the venue is, it's going be good as a whole for the club and for the boys looking to get to the next stages in their career.”
Nicholson finished the interview with giving some advice to the young players associated with Hutchison Vale at the moment by saying, “The most important thing is to listen to your coaches. These coaches are here for a reason..."
Hutchison Vale under 12s player Murray Connelly also gave his views on the whole initiative. He said, “The new initiative has improved my technique, since I came from my last club. The new initiative gives us the incentive to go and be like players such as Sam Nicholson and Jason Cummings. The things I have been doing since I have joined Hutchie, I have been doing every day.
“With Lothian Thistle having the potential of Celtic in the next round, it's great to be involved in a football club that the adult team could be playing the Scottish Champions in the next round.
“I am doing well with my football just now and I am currently preparing to go onto 11-a-side level next season. It will be a bit of a transition and the pitches will be bigger, however, we will adapt to it.”

David Reid | YFS North Region Journalist
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