Scotland’s stars of the future took to the big stage at the William Hill Scottish Cup Final when the first batch of Scottish FA Performance School players make their graduation ahead of the season’s showpiece match between Rangers and Hibernian.

Eighty-three boys and girls each received a medal and a certificate of achievement having completed their four years of football education at the seven schools across Scotland.
Of the graduates, 20 have been involved in Scotland youth international matches, most notably players such as Kieran Freeman, of St John’s High School in Dundee, who represented Scotland at this summer’s UEFA European Under-17 Championships in Azerbaijan.

Both finalists on Saturday were also represented at the ceremony, with Stephen Kelly and Lewis Mayo, of Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow, signed to Rangers and Ciaran Brian, of Broughton High School, playing for Hibernian.
In total, 25 clubs will have players who will be among the first batch of graduates.
Brian McClair, Scottish FA Performance Director: “It was a momentous day for each of these young players. It is the culmination of four years of hard work as pioneers in the Performance School programme. They have all been a credit to their schools, their families, their clubs and, of course, themselves.

“The important thing is that each players sees this as the start of a journey, not the end of it. The work, commitment and principles that have been fundamental both at their clubs and their performance schools will be integral to the realisation of their ambitions. I hope everyone enjoyed their day and I am sure we will meet again in the national youth teams.”
Stewart Regan, Scottish FA Chief Executive: “The schools are a key pillar of our Performance Strategy and I am delighted to see the first group of young players make their graduation at Hampden Park. The opportunity they have had is unparalleled in Scottish football and I am sure every young player who graduates today now has a perfect platform on which to fulfil their potential. It is our hope to see these players back at Hampden in future running out of the tunnel representing their country.”

Neil MacKintosh, Performance Development Manager at the Scottish FA, said:

“Over the four years, I’ve been really pleased with the progress. Our objective has always been ‘better players, better people, better grades’. We obviously won’t know about the grades aspect until the exam results in August, but we’re very confident that they will reflect the excellent work done by all parties over the last four years.

“I’m so privileged to be part of the journey helping these young people become the adults that they can be. 

The majority of Performance School pupils will now either sign professional contracts with their clubs or continue their education into S5.