The 2022/23 season of the CAS Under-18s Elite League gets underway this afternoon, with Aberdeen hosting St Mirren in the opening match at Cormack Park.
Gareth Evans’ Hibs side were victorious in last season’s competition after losing only twice in 27 games.
The opening day also sees Hearts host Celtic at Oriam, while the other sides get their campaigns underway next week.
This season’s elite competition will see nine clubs - Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United, Hamilton Academical, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Motherwell, Rangers and St Mirren – play each other four times each, over a 32 game season that concludes in May next year.
Meanwhile, the CAS Under 18s Performance League is the next to get underway on Friday evening, with Ayr United, Dundee, Dunfermline Athletic, Greenock Morton, Inverness, Livingston, Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle, Queen’s Park, Ross County and St Johnstone, battling it out between now and March 2023.
The CAS Under 18 Advanced Youth League then begins on Sunday 21 August, involving Airdrieonians, Alloa Athletic, Elgin City, Falkirk, Montrose, Queen of the South and Stirling Albion.
These Under-18s league are just three of a number of games programmes which fall under the umbrella of the Scottish FA’s structure, Club Academy Scotland (CAS), with matches taking place all the way down to Under-11s.
As well as these games programmes, Club Academy Scotland defines, operates and partially funds the Academy system in Scotland.
From Under-11 to Under-18 level, CAS provides the strategic direction for the development of players, with each club within CAS assigned to either the Elite, Performance (Progressive), Performance and Advanced Youth level, based on set criteria and a set of Measurable Performance Outcomes (MPOs), which take into account, appearances for home-grown players, coaching qualifications, facilities, talent identification, sport science and medical set ups.
The victor in the Under-18s Elite League also receives entry in the UEFA Youth League, allowing them to test themselves against Europe’s top young talent.
Campbell Money, Club Academy Scotland manager said: “I am delighted to see the 2022/23 season get underway at Under-18s level and wish all the best to the clubs.
“With Hibernian defending the Under-18s Elite League title and Rangers holding the Scottish FA Youth Cup, it looks set to be an exciting season.”
Andrew Gould, Chief Football Officer, added: “With the recent examples of Calvin Ramsay and Josh Doig securing exciting moves this summer, we believe we are consistently now seeing evidence of the work that is being done to develop young players in Scotland.
“Players are coming through the different age groups within the Club Academy Scotland system and going on to play professionally at a very high level, which is hugely exciting.
“We have had a couple of disrupted seasons with the different CAS games programmes owing to Covid-19, so we are very much looking forward to a campaign with less disruptions and the chance for our brightest young talent to thrive.”