The new season sees the continuation of the football forums across the three areas of the South East section of the Scottish FA: West Lothian, Midlothian and East Lothian. The forums give a chance for the ten to twelve clubs in each of the areas to find out about developments within the Scottish FA which affect youth football, whilst giving the Scottish FA feedback on the progress of each of the clubs on an area by area basis.

These forums are now fully constituted giving clubs an invitation to be directly involved in new initiatives set out by the Scottish FA while being able to report the progress of those already in place.

Usually chaired by a member from the Scottish Football Association the forums occasionally invite guest speakers. These can range from former professional players or coaches to development managers and community coaches.

David Sheldon, former Scottish FA Club Development Manager for the region and currently taking up the same role in the South West Region, said of the meetings, “The forums present an opportunity for regular communication between the clubs in each of the Lothian and Border areas and the Scottish FA, which allows both parties to be kept up to date with many aspects of the running of youth football in Scotland.”

It is a very positive move to have these forums constituted ensuring that the long term communication links between the youth clubs in Scottish football and the Scottish Football Association are maintained. They provide a great opportunity for players at the clubs to be fully involved in many more aspects than just the playing side of the game, while simultaneously showing the commitment from the Scottish Football Association in developing the stars of the future.

The benefits of these forums are already being felt. In Midlothian the forum has secured a further sponsorship deal with Borders Railway and West Lothian Council continue their support of the West Lothian forum. A grant of £5000 has been made available by both Borders Railway and West Lothian Council for all of the Quality Mark clubs in the area to help with the development coaches and training equipment, while at the same time enabling funds to promote football and encourage more young people to get involved at the grassroots level.

The initiative between Borders Railway and West Lothian Council and their respective forums helps to spread the cost of running the football teams in the counties. The grants help to reduce the cost for parents enrolling their children in football clubs. This aims to encourage more children to get involved with their local team and reduce the barrier of affordability for parents, the fruits of which will ideally be seen over the next few seasons.

All three forums across the South East region meet regularly and players and officials from all the clubs are actively encouraged to attend. David Sheldon added, “All the dates for the forums are sent out giving clubs a chance to arrange for representatives to attend all the forums, not only those in charge of running the clubs but players are also invited to attend so that everyone is involved.”

Now that the forums are fully constituted the platform is secure for the development of grassroots football in the Lothians, a positive and exciting future lies ahead for all involved.