There was cause for a triple celebration at Hampden Park this week as three age groups of pupils from the Scottish FA JD Performance Schools graduated from the programme. 

As well as the 2022 crop, the two previous age groups got their chance to experience a formal graduation of their own on Monday, 20 June, having missed out initially upon completion of the programme due to the covid-19 pandemic. 

For the 150 pupils who graduated it was a night to celebrate and reflect on their achievements as they look forward to the next stage of their lives and careers. 

Among them were a number of the members of the Scotland Under-17s squad who reached the European Championships in May, including captain Charlie McArthur and striker Rory Wilson.

The event was hosted by Scottish FA JD Performance School Manager Brian McLaughlin, with Chief Executive Ian Maxwell also in attendance. 

The graduates also received messages of support from a number of the Scotland Under-21s players who benefitted from the programme in recent years, including Ross Graham, Marc Leonard and Alex Lowry who have all have had breakthrough seasons over 2021/22. 

Following the graduations, the next cohort of JD Performance School stars officially began their journey on Wednesday, 22 June, as 90 S2 and S3 pupils were joined by their parents at Hampden Park for the programme launch day.

The JD Performance Schools programmes have been running since 2012 at schools across Scotland in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Motherwell.

JD Performance School Manager Brian McLaughlin said: "It was fantastic to get everyone together to celebrate the significant achievements of the pupils involved in the programme. 

"Particularly for the two older age groups, it was important for them that they got their chance to mark their success after being denied their formal events at the time due to the pandemic. 

"It was great to be able to live-stream the event as well, so many of the pupils' families and friends could share in their achievements, as could various members of staff who also play such a crucial role. 

"I think it's vital to remember the part that the families play in the achievements, as they are ones who entrust us with their children's education and development over the four-year period between S1 and S4. 

"During that period, the pupils will have received around 800 extra hours of coaching, but we are also proud of the emphasise we put on achieving strong academic results as well."

McLaughlin also outlined the influence the schools are having on teams at a national level, a decade on from the programme's introduction. 

"Obviously the well-documented success of Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson has been a huge boost for the Scottish FA JD Performance Schools and it's important for the pupils graduating today to see tangible evidence of the pathway to the senior teams.

"However, we can feel the impact of the programme throughout the various youth teams as well.

"13 of the most recent Scotland Under-21 squad came from the schools and it was great for the graduates to hear the messages from the likes of Ross Graham and Alex Lowry who were sitting in their position only a couple of years ago.

"It was hugely inspiring and I'm sure we will hear similar stories about many of the graduates who were sat in this room."