Coaching and volunteering play a hugely important role in the running of youth football in Scotland’s Central Region. As well as coaching teams in training sessions and matches, this also includes those who complete tasks such as preparing the pitch and organise transport. 

The Scottish Football Association supports those who make playing football possible and in order to do so, offers an assortment of ventures in order to ensure that this is possible. This includes not only coaching education courses, but also workshops on how to run clubs as well as on child protection and touchline behaviour.

The Scottish FA offers a number of different pathways that enable the individual to gain various coaching badges. These range from short one day courses, such as the Early Touches course for those who wish to coach children of primary school age, to longer courses, such as the UEFA Pro Licence. The way the courses are ensures that those with busy schedules still have the opportunities to attend. 

Students who wish to volunteer throughout the region can apply to take the coaching courses for free, with each level being linked to the amount of hours they wish to volunteer. Once a student has completed the course they are then placed with a Quality Mark club which gives them the opportunity to use the skills they have gained.

Someone who has been through several of these courses is Katie Cairney. Katie first went through the Early Touches course at the City of Glasgow College and used this to volunteer throughout the region.

"Becoming a youth football coach was something I had always wanted to do", Katie told the Scottish FA website. 

"I've been able to pass my ability and knowledge on to other people, and I've done this through the Scottish FA’s Early Touches course." 

The course itself gave Katie the confidence and self-belief to start coaching youth football at various festivals at places such as Toryglen and throughout Glasgow.

After realising that girls’ football was lacking in her local area, Katie decided to use her skills and experiences to start up a girls section within a football club. After discussions with Steven Hamilton, Football Development Officer in North Lanarkshire, Katie decided to start her girls section with Holytown Colts. Katie cites her main reason for choosing Holytown Colts was its club spirit, something any aspiring coach would look for when looking to link up with a potential team.

As well as volunteering with a local team, Katie attempts to improve girls’ participation in the sport. Through North Lanarkshire's Active Schools scheme Katie has been able to go into local schools and deliver football sessions to young females. These sessions are popular and Katie states that there are always a great number of girls attending.  Katie commented that she is happy for the girls who enjoy the sessions to join Holytown Colts, but doesn't mind if they don't as long as they are having fun.  Her main aim from these sessions is for girls to get the opportunity that she never had.

Katie cites Steven Hamilton, Football Development Officer for North Lanarkshire, as one of her biggest helps through her journey.  It was he who put her in contact with Colts.  Steven believes that Katie, along with the club, have done a fantastic job in creating a girls football. He also states that as well as this, they are also working towards a pathway leading from girls’ football, into women's football.  Steven went on to say that both he and the club are delighted with the enthusiasm that Katie has shown in her quest to encourage the growth of the game.  With the help of Holytown Colts, Katie's work has led to increased involvement from coaches in the girls section and Steven notes that plans are in place to expand the section in the future.

The different pathways that the Scottish FA offer open up various opportunities, whether you want to help out at a local club or create a new section as Katie has. Katie's story is one of success and shows that it is possible to make a difference as a youth football coach, as it is the coaches in the region that make it possible for the youths to be able to play competitive football in the Central Region.