19-year-old Aberdeen midfielder Ryan Jack dropped in to his former school, St Machar Academy, to offer advice and take part in a coaching session with the young pupils involved in the Scottish FA’s School of Football programme.
Watch footage from the day and an exclusive interview with Ryan on the right.
St Machar Academy is one of nine Schools of Football across the country, and was part of the original group of schools to sign up when the programme began in 2008.
Selected pupils follow an enhanced timetable that includes a period of football activity every day. Football is used as a tool to motivate the pupils, and their place on the programme depends on school attendance and academic improvement.
Ryan said: “It’s been great to come along to my old school and see the set-up here now.
“I trained three times a week when I was this age so I had a lot on my plate, but it would have been great if this was here when I was a pupil.
“At my age I couldn’t have imagined that I would have the experience that I have already. My advice to young players who want to become professional footballers is to stick in, listen to your coaches, work hard, and if you want it enough you’ll get it.”
The Schools of Football are about more than just playing ability, they aim to mould better citizens, as well as better footballers, through social and educational development.
Players are selected on footballing ability as well as a range of other criteria. Scottish FA coaches lead the selection and football aspects, but the programme is very much a partnership with local authority education departments, school teachers, active schools co-ordinators and football development officers.
The eight other schools involved in the programme are Cumnock Academy; Craigie High School, Dundee; Braidhurst High School, Motherwell; Newbattle High School, Dalkeith; Castlehead High School, Paisley; Forrester and St Augustine's, Edinburgh; Grange Academy, Kilmarnock; and Renfrew High School.
The Scottish FA Schools of Football are supported by the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities initiative.