Football in the east of Scotland is thriving.
Operating out of Lynch Sports Centre in the City of Discovery, a team of Scottish FA coaches are helping to grow the game to safeguard the sport’s long-term future.
Ian Lowe (33) is the regional manager who leads the team.
Steeped in the game, the former Dundee United and Forfar full-back is a modern football man.
“I have been playing football since I was six-years old and have played at professional and Junior level,” he explained.
And Ian has a vast knowledge of modern sports coaching methods from his days as a lecturer teaching the subject at the University of Abertay.
The region, which incorporates Perth and Kinross, Tayside, Angus and Fife, is in safe hands.
Nationwide, the Scottish FA has an array of programmes which provide children with fun-filled ways to play football.
The award-winning Tesco Bank Football Challenge – which offers primary school pupils an opportunity to be introduced to the benefits of the game – operates throughout Ian’s region.
“This programme has been great,” Ian said.
“It has been welcomed by everyone involved. It’s been at an age group where we haven’t worked in the past. It fits in well with primary schools’ curriculums and it is a great first taste of football.
“The feedback from my development officers has been good, and from schools and parents.”
The Scottish FA’s Quality Mark scheme – a system of rewarding clubs for good practice – is up and running at many teams throughout Ian’s patch.
Ian said: “Kevin Lee, our club development manager, has done a great job with this project.
“Over 62 clubs have been through the scheme. It rewards the clubs and highlights the good work going on.
“We have some disparate teams coming together to form bigger teams and making it easier for a wee boy or girl to get involved in football and make it more enjoyable for a mum or dad to volunteer which is what the programme is all about.”
Relations between clubs and the Scottish FA in the east, Ian said, are constructive and positive.
“Like to think we have a good relationship with our clubs and coaches and a good rapport when we meet at player pathway workshops, coach workshops etc,” he added.
“The proof in the pudding in that we had over 100 coaches at our recent coaching conference.
“We also have girls’ cup final event at the weekend where we can expect around 1000 people to attend.
“We have a very good team who are out there doing good work on the ground helping people so we are very lucky in that respect.”
What are the most rewarding aspects of the job?
“Seeing the game grow and seeing clubs getting involved in some high level projects and aiming to double the amount of players we have,” he replied.
“Helping to form new teams is also extremely rewarding.
"There are some clubs now which have 33 teams within it which is superb.”