St Machar Academy in Aberdeen is home to one of the Scottish FA’s flagship youth programmes – the School of Football.

Schools of Football, placed nationwide, offer children coaching opportunities within their daily routine.

Funded by the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities initiative, the main focus of the schools is to improve the off-field performance of its pupils, as well as on it.

Running the St Machar school is Calum Macdonald, football development officer for the Scottish FA.

Originally from the Isle of Lewis, Calum has a degree in Sports Studies and has been at St Machar for 18 months.

“Working at the school has been one of the most rewarding roles I have had within coaching,” he said.

“Seeing the children within the School of Football develop as players, individuals and in their education is a fantastic thing to be a part of.”

Players selected for the schools must have a good level of football ability but are also picked if they have areas of behaviour which can be improved upon.

Figures show academic performance and attendance in class increases after the pupils complete their two year School of Football programme.

Describing the progress he had seen in his pupils, Calum said: “Over the two years in which pupils are part of the programme you really see them grow as players and individuals.

“The School of Football gives them discipline and focus and helps them to concentrate on their education.

“Through the programme I’ve seen many positive changes in attitude amongst the pupils who are part of it. It is great to see how football can make such a difference.”

Calum said the school in the Granite City, in its fifth year, is a highly sought after programme for children to become part of.

“The School of Football has been received very well within St Machar Academy and its cluster schools within the area,” he said.

“Primary seven pupils within the cluster area really want to be part of the programme when they come up to secondary school, as they have seen the difference it’s made to older pupils previously within their primary.”

If you would like more information on Schools of Football in the North, please call 01343 540101 or email