The latest intake of Scottish FA Performance School pupils got a glimpse of the future today, as they were welcomed in to the programme at Oriam, Scotland’s new Sports Performance Centre.
The 47 boys and girls heard from Hibernian’s John McGinn about his journey in to the Scotland national team, while former Performance School pupils Aaron Reid and Johnny Mitchell shared their experiences as part of the first group to graduate from the programme.
Aaron (Heart of Midlothian) and Johnny (Falkirk) are amongst 15 graduates to have secured professional contracts, also including Kieran Freeman and Jordan Elliot at English Premier League sides Southampton and Swansea respectively.
The pupils also got a sneak preview of Oriam, which officially opens at the end of the month. The Sports Performance Centre is a key part of the Scottish FA’s performance strategy, providing world-class facilities and support services for the Scotland national teams and performance programme, and multi-sport involvement including rugby, volleyball, athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, fencing, handball, hockey, netball, shinty and squash.
The Scottish FA Performance School programme is now in it’s fifth year. Seven coaches have been appointed to work in conjunction with the schools and players’ clubs to enhance their technical skills at a key stage of their development, with football education incorporated in to their school curriculum.
Every year, each of the seven schools will take the most talented under-12 players in their region – both boys and girls – and provide a minimum five extra coaching sessions focusing on skills development. Over a four-year period, this will provide the most talented young footballers throughout the country with an extra 800 sessions.
Scottish FA Performance Development Manager, Neil Mackintosh, said: “The young players here today have been given a fantastic opportunity, and they have heard how important it is to work hard and keep your goal in mind over the next four years and beyond.
“John spoke about his route in to the Scotland squad and the challenges he overcame to get to where he is now. Aaron has suffered a dislocated knee, amongst other injuries, while Johnny wasn’t selected for the first year of the programme in 2012, but we kept an eye on his progress and brought him in as he entered second year.
“Players will develop at different ages and stages and have different obstacles to navigate, but the main philosophy of the Performance School environment is about developing your skills on an individual basis – and enjoying the experience along the way.
“The feedback and statistics from the programme have been very positive over the last four years. It was a proud moment to see the first group of pupils graduate this year at an event at the William Hill Scottish Cup Final, and even better that 15 of them have gone on to secure professional contracts.”
The seven Performance Schools and their coaches:
Braidhurst High School (Motherwell) - Andrew Goldie
Broughton High School (Edinburgh) - Greg Miller
Graeme High School (Falkirk) - Ian Ross
Grange Academy (Kilmarnock) - James Grady
Hazlehead Academy (Aberdeen) - Stuart Glennie
Holyrood Secondary School (Glasgow) - Brian McLaughlin
St John’s High School (Dundee) - Iain Jenkins
Oriam, Scotland's sports performance centre, opens on Monday 29th August. For more information visit oriamscotland.com