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West Region (394)

In the modern game, managers often bemoan the lack of time they are given to impress and make their mark on a team. Certainly, growing as a team is a huge learning curve, and even more so at youth level, where raw talent can be shaped even more effectively.

Terry Daly, coach of Arthurlie Juniors Blaze 2004s, outlined their aims for the season at the YFS Open Night.

Reflecting on last season’s campaign, he said: “We’ve done well. The white team is the one I started one I started developing. We had a few tough games, a few heavy defeats with it being my first season, but towards the end of it, they were pulling it together, linking up well. We finished on a high, winning the last four games."

Similar to how things work at the top level, the pre-season has been used to get the team to gel further and get into the required physical shape. The coach said that their preparation had been “very good”, with the teams taking part in two tournaments and playing a good number of games.

Asked about new additions to the team, Daly did not want to comment on individual players:

“There have been a few new players. A few have come and gone. That’s usual at the start of the season. But I think we’ve got a good settled group now.”

Clearly, he prefers to emphasise work ethic and team spirit instead of praising individual skill. Upon being asked which player stands out, Daly categorically responded: “Every one of them. Every one of them. It’s a team effort. I don’t [comment on] the job of individual players.”

Both the Blues and Whites have started the season well, getting 9-2 and 7-1 wins under their belts, respectively. However, Daly reckons that the onus is on them to improve if they wish to maintain that excellent kind of form:

“I want to see the white team fighting, and winning more. Like I said, last season, we finished winning the last four games. We want much of the same, in a sense, more link-up play.”

The coach is confident that they will grow even further this season. Commenting on the progress so far, he explained: “It came along well in a short space of time. [I've coached] teams beforehand, so I know how to get it started and get it running and hit the ground running, basically.”

Getting to the top level is all about never resting on your laurels and putting in your effort in training, week-in, week-out. Daly encouraged their players to buy into his philosophy: “Really, the aim is just to keep working hard and get better and better at a time.”

If he manages to spread this healthy attitude to their players, you cannot see them not improving even further. Hard work and effort put in at the training ground and on match days will stand them in good stead for the season and their future.

Fixture: Antonine FC v Stewarton Annick FC
Competition: Paisley Johnstone & District YFL 1999s League
Venue: Mountblow
Date: 29/08/2015
 

Stewarton Annick and Antonine got a point each as they held each other to a 3-3 draw in an exciting game in the Paisley Johnstone & District YFL 1999s league.

After their sluggish start against Tass Thistle a couple of days earlier, Antonine sought to come out of the blocks with a bit more urgency in their following game. Confidence is fickle, though, and they ultimately failed to grab the game by the horns immediately, beginning slowly and ponderously once again.

Their goalkeeper Andy Carroll was already called into action after two minutes, making a good save. Scarcely six minutes on, a through ball found an Annick attacker, who broke the deadlock after having timed his run cleverly with Antonine claiming he had been offside.

Stewarton Annick were clearly not satisfied with their lead as they sought to increase the margin and attacked with fervour. Carroll saved Antonine as he parried a couple of efforts to keep the scoreline down.

Gradually, Antonine came back into it and it was Lewis Smith who fired just over from their first good opportunity. After 25 minutes, the Annick goalkeeper dropped a fine Brendan Kelly cross, but the defence somehow managed thwart Antonine’s attackers as Dom Cairneys shot was blocked and the keeper then pulled off another save.

Half Time: Antonine 0-1 Stewarton Annick

Although the exact words of Antonine’s half-time team talk will never be known, they were surely the right ones as Antonine went into the half like men possessed. They were in total control, constantly probing the away side and creating various chances.

First, a header from Smith went just over. Shaun Quinn also came close to scoring, but it was to take something special to break down the Stewarton Annick defence. In the 70th minute, a flowing move involving five players had Cairney beat two opponents before pulling back across goal. This passage of breathtaking football got them their reward as Smith was in the right position to force home the equaliser.

A further goal for each side set up an exciting finale to the game.

Ten minutes from time, Smith himself beat two defenders and the goal in his sights when the defender seemed to pull him down in the box. Antonine were furious with the referee who had waved play on.

And Antonine were to regret it dearly, as 86 minutes in, a lack of concentration meant they didn't deal with an Annick corner that was scrambled home to regain the lead.

Antonine then showed tremendous character to equalise within in a minute, as Danny Hamilton beat two players and his cross was bundled home by Smith to get another one and make it 3-3.

In the last three minutes, Antonine created three good chances as they went all out for the victory. Smith, Hamilton and Harry Shaw all came close, but there was to be no more scoring.

Full Time: Antonine FC 3-3 Stewarton Annick

Antonine did well to claw themselves back into the game after Stewarton Annick had dominated the proceedings for much of the first half.

The man of the match award goes to Dom Cairney, who gave a great performance.

Antonine Squad: Carroll, MacIver, Kelly, Quinn, Miller, Hutton, Cairney, McKendrick, James, Donaghy, Smith, Maxwell, Shaw, Hamilton.

Tuesday, 01 September 2015 11:49

Budhill continue to bloom on all fronts

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From playing keepy-ups with his son in the park to co-ordinating 47 coaches in charge of over 200 kids, Billy McNaught and Budhill Football Academy have come a long way in two short years. “It was a bombardment of parents” says McNaught, the club's chairman and head coach, who started by letting one boy play with him and his son Lewis and ended up getting his coaching badges so he could properly train the avalanche of children who just kept coming back.

Based in the East End of Glasgow, the set-up now takes kids from age two right up to fourteen, both boys and girls, to play football in tournaments and competitions across the country. Budhill is more than just your typical football club however. McNaught is determined to make them a community institution that provides help and support in a deprived area.

“We’re working quite heavily with Active East at the Wellhouse Hub in Easterhouse and did a 10-week programme with them. We’ve also done a six-week programme at Bannerman High School over the summer as well as the Alexandra Festival and the Auchinlea Festival. It’s about us saying ‘This is us, we’re here. Bring your boys and lassies here and we’ll train them.’”

A strict disciplinarian, McNaught does not stand for any bullying at the club - from either the children or the parents - and has introduced an innovative yellow and red card scheme for adults on the sidelines at matches to deter them from shouting. “'Let the coaches coach' is what we say, so any of the coaches in the vicinity can walk up to a parent that’s yelling and tell them to calm their jets, otherwise it’s a yellow card and if he carries on it’s another yellow card and they have to leave and they have to take their child with them.”

With all of the coaching staff at Budhill volunteers, it’s a sign of the respect Billy believes they deserve. “People forget how much time a coach puts into qualified and they start ripping them to shreds on a Saturday afternoon, so that’s why there’s rules at this club and we’re quite strict.” There’s even a curfew of 8.30pm on all communication with coaching staff from parents so they can enjoy their evenings in peace.

Amongst all the work being done by Budhill, their work with the disabled is the most inspiring. The first youth club in Scotland to have teams for primary school children with learning difficulties, they are currently trying to expand from their current two schools, Croftcoign and Hampden Primary, to create a mini-league for four teams. “We have them playing alongside our mainstream kids on Saturdays and it helps break down barriers” said McNaught. “We found that as soon you put down two sets of goals with a ball in the middle, as long as they know where to score they just go for it”.

The club receives help and communicates regularly with the SFA on the best ways to work with the disabled kids. McNaught particularly praises David McArdle, the SFA’s Disability Development Officer, for his help.

“He introduced a foam ball which helps one of the boys who when he puts his foot on top of the ball it sinks in, and then when his muscles relax it brings it back up again and makes his top-tap easier to do. It’s the wee things like that that builds up the club for me and, to be honest with you, it’s brilliant. I absolutely love it and I love watching my own boy play.”

His "own boy" is Lewis, a central midfielder and captain of the 2003 side that have just made the step up to competitive 11-a-side football. To prepare, the boys took a pre-season trip to Sunderland where Lewis got among the goals but his dad, and coach, admits they found it challenging to come to grips with the changes from non-competitive sevens.

Lewis said: “The pre-season didn’t go exactly great and the boys were still trying to find their feet but we had a great result at the weekend beating Larkhall Thistle. It took them long enough to get it but eventually they just started playing.”

Lewis got a hat-trick in that game and he is confident about his chances of adding to that tally, saying he “wants a hat-trick in every game” although the part of the game he enjoys most is “getting to control the players all over the park”.

Having been with his Dad from the start of this journey, Lewis is full of praise for his coaching and the way his dad has picked up new techniques, particularly a spell at Hartlepool where they enjoyed the training and Billy has developed it into what they do at Budhill.

Both the McNaughts are excited and optimistic about the season ahead. Billy believes that getting that first win has made the boys hungry for more and the ever-confident Lewis thinks they’ll “win the league easy”, picking out his teammates Josh up front and James in goals as the key players.

It’s a big season for Budhill on all fronts but their community work is doing plenty to prove there’s more to a football club than just winning on the pitch.

 
Friday, 28 August 2015 15:28

Ashfield under-21s focus on the future

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Player development is the name of the game for Ashfield FC Under-21s, where coach Phil Docherty is focused on bringing through the next group of talented youngsters so they are ready to make the step-up to the Juniors.

With a newly revamped ground, the Peugeot Ashfield Stadium in Possilpark, that they share with the Glasgow Tigers speedway team, and the promise that those who shine will be considered for the Juniors side, Phil Docherty is confident that Ashfield are a good proposition for young talent.

“It’s like a whole new club we’re trying to build now," he said. "It’s all about building for the future, getting players in for the senior team. Now you can actually sign dual-contracts which allows the boys to play 21s and Junior football, so it’s better for their development. It means if they get called up for the juniors they can play and get on a wee run and maybe if their form dips they can drop back down to the 21s.”

It’s an attitude that appears to be paying dividends, with Phil Docherty admitting the chance to play for the Juniors playing a key role in signing six players over the summer. One player who benefits from the policy is Phil’s son Paul, an 18-year old centre half who has already made the move. He has enjoyed his foray into Junior football, but admits it’s quite a significant step-up.

“It’s a lot more challenging," he said. "At the Juniors you’re playing against big 30-year old guys and it’s a lot more physical. It’s far better and it challenges you a lot more and makes you a better player.

"One week you can be playing against a wee fast nippy boy and the next week it’s the big muscly bruiser that tries to knock you about, so trying to deal with it is challenging. When you switch back into the 21s you feel a lot more at ease and a lot more comfortable.”

Leaving the comfort zone is vital for the players' development though and that’s why Docherty Snr is happy for his players to take the opportunity - although he says he will fight to keep them in his side for cup games in a bid to bring home some silverware.

“The league we’re in is the third tier so I’m not that bothered about it as such. If we progress then fine, but it’s more about the development of the boys. There’s more prestige in the cups at this stage so we’ve agreed that if the senior team want any of the boys they’ve got first call on them but this year with the likes of the Scottish Cup and the other cups, we want the 21s to put out their strongest team.”

An earlier than expected start put Ashfield on the back foot this season and Phil Docherty says they are just beginning to find their feet. After a return to winning ways last weekend they travel to Greenock to play Hamilton Inverclyde, but their open door policy to the juniors has cost them their goalkeeper. “The Juniors' goalie broke his hand last week and they didn’t have anyone on the bench so he had to play on. They don’t want it happening again so this week they’ve asked to take our goalie so we’ll need to play with our second goalie.”

They might also be without Docherty Jr, who is waiting to hear if he will be called up to the Juniors; although he says “their manager kind of hinted at it”. If so, his father will need to pull some extra quality out of the reserves once more.

After narrowly losing out on the league title last season, Park Villa 2002s are hoping that this will be the year they push on to success. With four matches already played of the new season and a 100% record secured, it has certainly been an optimistic start for the young team playing their second season at 11-a-sides and Club Secretary Sheelagh Boyce is confident the boys can take the next step.
 
She said: “They look stronger than ever, absolutely fantastic and they couldn’t have made a better start. We beat Erskine 3-0 on Monday and they are a good team. We finished last season winning the Glasgow City Cup and also the Renfrew Victoria Cup and also finished the league season well but were beaten by Glenvale to the title”.
 
The rivalry with Glenvale extends even further after they were drawn against them in the first round of the Scottish Cup, a competition that the club have high hopes for. “Can you believe that?” says Sheila, laughing. “That’s definitely the big one. We got a hard draw in the Scottish Cup last year and didn’t get very far so this year it’s just got to be done, we’ve got to beat Glenvale.”
 
Playing in the Paisley and Johnstone District League, Park Villa not only have Glenvale to contend with. This season the Govan-based team are also up against close neighbours Harmony Row. Having joined from the Glasgow league, Sheelagh says it will add a bit of “friendly rivalry” and will add more competition.
 
But while cups and titles will always be the name of the game, Sheelagh says Park Villa are about more than that. “We have a really nice atmosphere at the club and they have fantastic discipline. The boys have a great reputation for being good natured and having a good attitude. The parents all get on well and there’s lots of support. We had a race night at the end of June and we raised enough money to get new strips and tracksuits. We’d like to do a trip away soon, perhaps the Blackpool tournament, so we’ll need to do some fundraising for that.”
 
With only one new arrival over the summer, Park Villa are a tight-knit club from a close community and they appear to have all the ingredients for a successful season to come.

With the youth football season fast approaching and pre season preparations coming to a close, Youth Football Scotland was fortunate in getting the chance of speaking with Whitecraigs AFC president Dean Sockalingum and under-16 midfielder Reiss Munro. The club have only been in existence for a year now and have already seen interest from two of Europe's top clubs.

"We are open to absolutely everyone, we are still keen to develop some of the young talent out there, we have some exciting young players in our teams and have had some major clubs show an interest, Arsenal have been involved and actually signed one of our boys. Portuguese club Porto have also taken an interest in one of our lads, so it is really exciting that there is some real potential talent."

The interest that has been shown by Porto has led to some unexpected benefits for the South Glasgow based club as Dean was able to reveal “We have a big event at the end of the season, we have developed a good relationship with Porto and they have invited us over in the Summer, so we are taking a couple of sides over to take part in a youth tournament in May. “It is a mini tournament and we will play their youth side, The Porto Dragon’s, it will be a fantastic experience for all of us.”Club president Dean Sockalingum explained the beginnings of the side and the great strides made since."

"Our club was formed to give kids who had never played structured football a chance, so we started with six kids and asked them all to bring a friend along with them, we then had 12 and have now grown to 145 across all the age groups and they are a great bunch of lads," Sockalingum said. 

"They began as a mismatch of boys that had never met, lost their first six or seven matches then going unbeaten in their last six or seven."

His favourite memory of that first season was fondly remembered. "My highlight would be winning our first match, that was a real big thing for us, the boy’s had not played with each other or in a league as I’ve already said, they then started to get it together, stopped leaking goals, found belief and then competed," he said. "The stuff we were working on in training actually worked well when it was put together, so that was a real standout moment for me."

Looking to the season ahead “pre season has went really well for us and the club has blossomed, we have brought in about 24 players overall and about seven boys in the under-16s, so we feel that we have brought added strength to the club. "The boys are just back and have really worked hard in the pre season and they are now raring to go and ready for their first match this weekend."

Whitecraigs ambitions have risen since forming last year and they are now looking for further improvement, Dean explained that “our aim as a club is for everyone to develop further as players and finish somewhere from mid table and above, getting a wee cup run would be fantastic too. The players need to see their development in terms of personal goals that they have set for themselves, when this comes to fruition, they need to play much more as a team and build on last year.”

Whitecraigs midfielder Reiss Munro spoke  about his ambitions for the club this season. He said:  "We are aiming to get a good run of wins and try and finish somewhere reasonable in the league, it is a very well bonded side that gets along really well together and we now know the score.” Reiss continued to explain how the team gets on well away from the pitch. "We all like to keep in contact through social media when not around each other and some of the team now know each other away from training, I find being in the side fun, entertaining and I’ve made loads of new friends since joining."

Rutherglen Glencairn JFC under-21s finished last season in mid-table and with the Lady Darling Cup in the trophy cabinet - a good year by most standards, but coach Alex McArthur has his sights set on bigger wins in 2015/2016.

A poor season in 13/14 meant the management team, which also includes Andy McFadyen, Jamie McGall, and Tam Bennett, knew last year would be about restructuring in a bid to benefit the club going forward.

"Last season was a building season and we brought in a fresh new squad," McArthur told Youth Football Scotland. "We hoped to win something but the Lady Darling Cup was beyond our wildest expectations."

With the foundations laid and looking promising, this summer came the challenge of adding to the squad without upsetting the balance but McArthur believes they have done just that.

“The problem we had last year was we had to add quality not quantity and I believe we’ve done that this year. We have five superb additions that will strengthen us - a striker, a left winger, two central defenders and a boy who can play right back or centre-mid. Around five of the squad are aged 21 and this is their last season with us, so we hope they’ll go out with a bang and move on to Glencairn Juniors or another junior club. I have high hopes for us.”

But how high? It’s only a few short years since the team of 2012/2013 won the treble and McArthur doesn’t feel daunted by the prospect of playing in their shadow.

“You’ve got to plan to win everything you enter and we want to emulate the treble team of three seasons ago. The league is the ultimate goal of course but also the Scottish Cup and League Cups. There’s a buzz about the boys and they have set high expectations for themselves but there’s a lot of good teams in the league like Tower Hearts, Goldenhill and Harmony Row who will be stiff opposition.”

With the league kick-off imminent, a good pre-season is always important and Rutherglen Glencairn have started well, winning all four of their games against junior teams without conceding a goal and scoring 12 - the highlight of which was a 3-0 victory over Drumchapel, where McArthur says his boys played “some of their best football in years”. Three games against much sterner junior opposition led to two narrow defeats and a draw from which the management team are taking many positives.

First up in the league is Antonine Football Club and despite his optimism for the season ahead McArthur is taking nothing for granted.

“They gave us a couple of hard games last year so I’m anticipating another hard game on Saturday but we’re at home so we like to think we’ll win all our home games.”

It remains to be seen if the current squad can match the achievements of Rutherglen Glencairn teams of the past but there’s no doubt their coaches believe in them.

At Holytown Colts FC one of the basic fundamentals of the club is to teach the kids the advantages of having a healthy life. One of the main coaches for the under-sixes at the club, Danny Rolink, spoke with Youth Football Scotland and told us about a sponsored walk that the club has organised.

"We thought that this would be a great way to teach them how beneficial and fun doing basic exercise like walking can be. Something that’s simple and something kids can do with their family out with the time at our club," he said.

The Colts will try and arrange a sponsored event once every year to keep the cost down as they also rely on local businesses to help them out.

"We’re very grateful to our current sponsors Bellshill MOT’s, Senior Wright Ltd Insurance Brokers and the David Livingstone Centre of the National Trust for Scotland," Rolink said.

One of the main aims for the coming season for this club is to "simply have fun and provide a platform for the kids to express themselves as well as guide them in the right direction whilst playing the beautiful game known as football".

As a Scottish Quality Award Community Club this is definately a step in the right direction to go on to bigger and better things while also making sure that the children in the community and playing for the club know how to live healthily and happily.

We wish Holytown Colts FC all the best with their sponsored walk!

In the first ever pro-youth festival held at Loch Lomond it was Celtic FC who came out on top in the under -17s elite category. This invite-only tournament was held at Stirling University and the competition saw Sheffield United, Partick Thistle, Fife Elite Football Academy and  Celtic FC all go into action.

Celtic started off their campaign with a 2-2 draw against Sheffield United, while Fife Elite Academy drew 1-1 with Partick Thistle. The opening day saw no team manage to win  but with the talent that was on show, this was a sign for better things to come.

The next day saw Sheffield United entertain Partick Thistle in an affair that saw United come out on top in a 2-0 win.  At the same time Celtic were up against Fife Elite which saw The Hoops win 4-0. At the end of the second day it was Celtic who were leading the competition closely followed by Sheffield. In third place came Partick followed by Fife Elite.

In the third day of this section, Sheffield United edged past Fife Elite Academy in a 2-1 win and Partick Thistle lost 2-0 to Celtic FC. This would then see Sheffield United  play Celtic in the Final of the competition.

Later that day, the final took place and this looked to be a feisty affair as both teams were unbeaten so far in the competition. In the end Celtic were victorious with three goals from Ciaran Drivers and one from Michael Johnstone - it was clear to see why they had been crowned the Denis Law Tournament champions in the past two seasons.

"I was delighted with the performance and the manner in which we played, controlling the game throughout," Celtic Academy manager Tommy McIntyre told the club's official website.

"Congratulations go to the players and staff in particular to 17s coach Michael O’Halloran."

As the competition came to a close it was Celtic FC who were crowned deserved  champions as they were unbeaten throughout the tournament.

 

It is already a summer of success for Erskine YFC with one of their most talented youngsters already on their way to the USA to join up with a squad at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.
 
Ryan Muir, 17, has been at Erskine for five years and credits the club for giving him the best possible start to his career. He told Youth Football Scotland:  "They’ve really brought me on as a player. It’s been really good for competition and the training and the coaching has been really positive.
 
"That basically really helped me to go on and do this football scholarship to have fun while also doing my degree."
 
Studying Exercise Science at the college, Muir hopes that the footballing experience alongside the obvious benefits of a degree will help him going forward in his career. "I’m going there to get my degree at the University," he said. "But whatever I can gain out of the football playing side whether I can get picked up or gain experience out there and try and become a coach [will be a benefit]."
 
The scholarship is a hotly contested one with applicants coming from across the world. Muir said that “it’s all international, there’s Welsh and English but also central European and a lot of Latin American players. "I think last year there was an African player as well so it’s very international," Muir said.
 
The ultimate goal for Muir is to get his degree and possible stay in the USA. "I’ll be out there for four years and getting my degree and once that’s finished I’ll have a look at my job opportunities out in America and stay out there if I like how it was," he said.