West Region (392)
After a 2-2 draw in Switzerland, Accies aim to finish the job against Basel at the Hope Stadium on Wednesday night to advance to the next round of the UEFA Youth League.
Dougie Imrie's side swept to the under 17 league title undefeated last season to earn their place within the elite bracket of European youth football. It is the first time any Scottish club other than Celtic has competed in the competition.
It’s further testimony to a youth set up which regularly brings young players all the way through the system to senior first team football. A CIES (Centre International d’Etude du Sport) survey last year listed Accies as the only British club in the European top 100 clubs to feature home grown players in their starting line-up.
The likes of James McCarthy, James McArthur and Michael Devlin have moved on to big clubs over the years. With a chance to shine in midweek coach Brian Potter says the occasion can only raise the bar even further and inspire the next crop of players to follow suit.
“It’s been a great experience for us all,” he told Youth Football Scotland. “The drive to bring on young players here is well documented. We’ve proven over the years that if you’re good enough you stay in the team. We give young players that opportunity.”
“We start early here and try and keep them in the system. The core of our team on Wednesday will be the boys who went undefeated last season. There’s boys here who have been here for up to seven years and have the Hamilton ethic of working hard and being difficult to beat.”
“Reaching European competition gives everyone at all levels something to aim for, and can only help us attract more young players to become involved. It can only be good for the whole set up here, and improves us also as coaches.”
“We also made a good play of getting into Project Brave. It gives us access to more coaches and facilities, sports scientists, more access to video analysis. It has helped raise the bar even further. Ultimately it’s about giving the kids the best grounding that they can into full time football.”
Tickets on the night will be free to all as Accies hope for a big crowd to see Potter’s side over the line. Adam Douglas’s double in the first leg gives Accies more than a chance against top opposition.
“We drew a recognised team, and it was a great experience to go over there and prepare in a big stadium. It was a difficult game and we did well to get a result. Our aim was to keep the tie alive and it’s all to play for.” Potter says.
Kick off at the Hope CBD Stadium is at 7pm on Wednesday.
Twelve clubs across the country, all taking part in a scheme with one common goal; educating children about the benefits of sport and nutritious food and the effect it has on their health.
The project was set up by The Scottish Football Partnership Trust and aims to teach the kids football skills as well as giving them nutritional advice and a healthy dinner, post-kick-about. It has travelled the land far and wide, with clubs from Dundee to Kilwinning taking part.
The latest club YFS visited was Pollok United Soccer Academy in Corkerhill. The scheme was coming to the end of its 12-week run, and on-hand to celebrate were the then Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell, and Glasgow Pollok MSP Humza Yousaf.
“We’re really pleased to be here at Pollok United Soccer Academy to support the fantastic work that happens through the GoFitba scheme,” Campbell told YFS. “I’ve seen it in its former guise as FooTea and have seen how the kids respond - getting a chance to play the game, getting taught about health and nutrition and also getting the chance to have something nice and healthy to eat at the end.”
“It’s a fantastic, well rounded, holistic project and we’re really pleased to do what we can to lend support and to see so many young people enjoy the game.”
Yousaf, on his local patch, was also keen to sing the praises of the project, which was awarded a 50,000 Euro grant from The UEFA Foundation for Children and also received funding from The Kilpatrick Fraser Charitable Trust.
“This project is wonderful because it gets kids talking about nutrition in a way that doesn’t feel like school, doesn’t feel like they’re getting a lesson,” Yousaf said. “It feels like they’re having a good time. They then note that in their journal, take that home and then they’re influencing their parents about nutrition, nutritious eating and healthy habits.”
The success of the project has helped highlight the child obesity problem Scotland currently has, something which Yousaf touched on.
“We know that Scotland has a child obesity problem, we know that,” he said. “It’s got problems around health and healthy eating, so I’m delighted that this project is using football as that hook. This ticks so many of the Government’s agendas, so many of the Government’s boxes.
“We have serious health issues. We can’t sweep it under the carpet and say: ‘Aw we like an Irn-Bru and a pie, that’s just who we are’. That’s great, enjoy some of that stuff, but we have got some real health issues and we’ve got to start at this age. We’ve got to start with young kids, right from the off. They actually influence the parents, and it has inter-generational affects,” he added.
The scheme has been hugely popular, with Campbell and Yousaf both pointing to football being the catalyst for getting those involved. “Well we know that sport is an incredible hook to get young people involved and engaged with health promotion messages,” Campbell said.
“This is a fantastic example of that - using the hook of football, with local clubs rooted in the communities, helping children that need that wee bit of help and encouragement to eat more healthily and delivering those messages through football,” she continued. “It’s a fantastic example of sport being really innovative and doing what it can to increase the health of the nation.”
Yousaf agreed: “It’s the universal language. three billion people are watching the World Cup right now as we speak, so it is a universal language and it’s great. I’ve seen football being used to get men for example to talk about mental health, something which traditionally they don’t do.”
The season might be entering its final stages, but spring is just the beginning for a selection of Scotland’s most promising youth players. On 10 April, The Celtic Football Academy travelled to Murcia in Spain on a three-day session in which the stars of tomorrow were put through their paces by a team of top coaches.
More than just ball skills
We all know the pressures that can be part and parcel of playing football at the highest level. Money, adulation and media attention are great in their own way, but can also lead to some high profile falls from grace. For this reason, the event doesn’t just focus on the skills that are needed on the field of play.
For example, footballers and gambling have always gone hand in hand, but today’s gamblers typically prefer to visit a casino online. Of course, there is no harm in a leisurely game of secret slots or similar, but a major part of the Academy event is to help young footballers recognise the signs when a harmless leisure activity can turn into a problem, both for them and those around them.
Developing skills on and off the field
Of course, the main focus is out in the middle, and over the three days, the participants were involved in more than ten hours of drills, mini-games and other exercises, which reflect exactly what goes on in the regular academy.
There were also a series of classroom session and lectures from keynote speakers on what it takes to succeed as a professional footballer in the 21st century.
Who was in attendance
The event was aimed at youth players who are just starting to come up through the ranks and could become household names over the coming decade. Open to Scottish footballer born between 2002 and 2007, there was undoubted talent on display, and some top coaches from the Celtic Academy to help them develop their skills.
To the winner the spoils
While the session was open to any qualifying applicant willing to stump up the £325 fee, there was something extra special on offer for those who could demonstrate the skill and attitude to really make it as a professional.
Following extensive feedback and one-on-one sessions with the coaching staff, the best of the best were offered a unique opportunity to spend an entire week with Celtic as part of the Youth Academy. There is no better way to fully understand the life of a professional footballer than to spend a week in that sort of company.
About the Youth Academy
Every professional team understands that it needs to constantly look to its future, and invests in youth development in some shape or form. However, the programme at Celtic is universally accepted as world class. Since the inception of Project Brave, there has been almost as much competition amongst the academies as there is out in the middle between the first teams.
Earlier in the season, Celtic’s academy was awarded elite status by the Scottish FA, meaning it is considered by those who matter to be among the top academies in Scotland. A brief glance through the alumni certainly suggests that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Current first team stars including Kieran Tierney (pictured, above), James Forrest, Liam Henderson and Callum McGregor are all products of the academy, and there are plenty of current academy players who have had early opportunities for first team glory.
It will be intriguing to see who among those who attended Murcia this year will be the first team stars dominating the back pages in ten years time.
Drumchapel United's 06 & 07's look to test themselves against quality opposition at the Blackpool International Trophy with Trans World SoccerWritten by Kieran Morrison
Top of the league Townhead United 04's aim to continue winning ways in Blackpool International Trophy with Trans World SoccerWritten by Kieran Morrison
Hampden Weir 2008’s hope to have ‘great memories in years to come’ from the International Blackpool Trophy this EasterWritten by Kieran Morrison
In this edition of #WhatsYourStory we look ahead to Hampden Weir 2008’s trip to the Blackpool International Trophy this Easter with Trans World Soccer.
Youth Football Scotland caught up with coach Scott Brisbane ahead the of boys trip down south in Easter, and got a preview of what the team are most looking forward to.
Scott said ‘from the coaches point of view...we look forward to the boys spending time together, bonding and most of all having fun’. The team is run and coached by volunteers, after Hampden Boys Club merged with Weirs Recreation - creating Hampden Weirs RAFC.
Coach Scott expressed his delight as he believes this merger ‘created an exciting pathway for children to move from youth football from Hampden Weir RAFC right through to Amatuer level with Weirs RAFC.’
Another aspect to tournament football that Scott said they are looking forward to in Blackpool is ‘the experience the boys will get playing against teams from Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and Europe’.
With such variety at the tournament, Scott hopes that ‘the boys will have great memories in years to come from this’.
This is the first of a few tournaments that Hampden Weir 2008’s plan on attending this year, and they will be hoping to get off to a winning start.
What tournament are you attending?
This year we will be attending the Blackpool International Trophy held at Fleetwood towns training facility at Easter, later on we will no doubt be involved in some of the tournaments we took part in last year, this included the Glasgow City Cup, the Finnart Festival, the Barrhead Tournament and hopefully a few more.
What are you most looking forward to?
From the coaches point of view the thing we look forward to the most is the boys spending time together, bonding and most of all having fun, we also look forward to the experience the boys will get playing against teams from Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and Europe, hopefully the boys will have great memories in years to come from time together like this.
What is something people may not know about Hampden Weir?
I don’t think there is much people won’t know about Hampden, were a typical local team coached and run by volunteers, 2 years ago Hampden Boys Club joined up with Weirs Recreation which became Hampden Weirs RAFC, this created an exciting pathway for children to move from youth football as Hampden Weir RAFC right through to Amateur level with Weirs RAFC.
In this edition of #WhatsYourStory we look forward to Hillwood Thistle’s trip to The Blackpool International Trophy with Trans World Soccer.
Youth Football Scotland caught up with Brian, who coaches the 2003’s and he was happy to tell us a little more about the team.
The Blackpool International Trophy is important to Hillwood Thistle for a reason unlike most others, it is the first tournament for the team.
It will be a special trip for the 2003s, who Brian told us ‘were formed out of a group of kids who weren’t getting games at their own club’, so will be looking to leave their mark and get Hillwood Thistle off to a winning start in the tournament.
The team understand that it won’t be easy, but Brian says the boys are ‘looking forward to testing themselves against quality opposition as they are a new team’.
Hillwood Thistle 2003’s will be joining a number of Scottish teams at The Blackpool International Trophy, along with a host of foreign teams, but with it being their first ever tournament together, they ought to have an extra spring in their step.