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INTERVIEW: Calum Leslie

Written by  Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk recently sat down with Calum Leslie of North Merchiston Vale AFC to talk about his journey through the Scottish Youth Football system.
Calum Leslie - “My name is Calum Leslie and I am currently playing for North Merchiston Vale AFC in The LEAFA Championship. I started playing in Primary School and have played for many youth clubs both in Northern Ireland where I was born and in the Scottish Borders. I have since progressed through youth football and into the amateur system in Edinburgh.”
Daniel Kirk – “Tell us more about your club?”
Calum – “North Merchiston Vale AFC were formed in 2006 and play out of the North Merchiston Club at Harrison Park in Polwarth Edinburgh. I am currently in my 3rd season at the club. We currently play in the LEAFA Championship having last year won promotion from the Edinburgh West division.”
Daniel – “What position do you play? Have you always played in that position?”
Calum –“I play in goal. I’ve always played in goal since I think primary 6, I’ve had the odd game outfield mainly on the wings as I used to have a bit of pace in my younger days, but in goal is my favourite position and where I play best.”
Daniel – “Any success stories you can tell us? About you or anyone you played with?”
Calum – “At U17 level I played for Peebles Thistle and in my final season at that age group we managed to reach the league cup final. We played our biggest rivals Innerleithen Rovers, who used to beat us almost every game we played against them. However, on this occasion we managed to pull off a 1-0 win to lift the trophy. To finally beat them and in a cup final made the win even sweeter and to have  bragging rights at school on the Monday morning felt pretty good.”
Daniel – “What age were you when you signed for your first club?”
Calum – “In Northern Ireland I only ever played school football, so it wasn’t until I moved to Peebles at the age of 13 that I signed for my first youth club, Peebles Thistle FC.”
Daniel – “How many clubs have you played for?”
Calum – “Including each age group from u14’s up to amateur level at Peebles, Salters AFC and NMV AFC in LEAFA that’s a nice round total of 3 clubs.”
Daniel – “How has playing for a youth team improved your game?”
Calum – “I think the main thing that helped to improve my game after signing for a team was having structured training sessions to work on specific areas of my game, especially having the opportunity to work on goalkeeping specific training which is or at least was at Youth level. That’s the main difference between playing for a club and having a kick about with your mates in the park.”
Daniel – “How easy or difficult is it for kids to get into youth football these days compared to when you were playing youth football?”
Calum – “I think it’s probably easier nowadays, when I was younger social media didn’t really exist so you had to either know someone who was already at a club either as a player or a coach or you would find out about it at school. But now especially living in Edinburgh, or any large city, it’s so easy to search for clubs on Facebook or Twitter and get yourself along to play.”
Daniel – “In the future would you like your son to get involved in grassroots football?”
Calum – “Definitely, he’s only 2 in December so he’s still a few years away from it yet, but I would love it if he got involved in the grassroots game. Obviously I won’t put pressure on him to play, if he would rather play or do something else I’d be more than happy, but I think every dad who loves football secretly wants their son to grow up to be a professional player.”
Daniel – “Lastly, do you have any plans to get into coaching in the future?”
Calum – “It’s definitely something I have thought about, having studied Sports Science at University I have gained some good background knowledge and I would love to get my coaching badges and get involved in coaching probably at a Youth level as I also have a background in working in childcare.”
Daniel – “Thank you for speaking to me today, I’m sure people will find this quite an interesting read and I’m sure it will give people an insight to the Youth game in Scotland.”
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