The latest group of Scottish FA JD Performance School pupils began their journey today at the annual induction at Hampden Park.
The 48 pupils attended the national stadium with their parents where they were treated to a Q&A with Performance Director Malky Mackay and former Scotland internationalist Stephen McManus as well as recent Grange Academy graduate Harry Cochrane who scored for Hearts' first team in pre-season against Linfield.
The Scottish FA JD Performance School programme is now in its sixth year with JD signing a three-year deal to become the title sponsor of the initiative.
Seven coaches work in conjunction with the schools and players’ clubs to enhance their technical skills, with football education incorporated into 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.
The programme has already seen successes through the national youth teams with 15 of the 20 players named in the recent Scotland Under-17s squad being Performance School graduates.
Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “It is a very exciting time for these youngsters and I told their parents this morning that their children are potentially Scotland players, which is a big statement but it’s true.
“In three or four years' time these players have the chance to pull on a Scotland jersey at Under-16s level.
“It’s all about sacrifice and hard work for the next four years for them. We’re going to push them as hard as we can and enlist the help of universities and football clubs.
“We’ve had Kieran Freeman go down to Southampton, Billy Gilmour move to Chelsea and the national youth sides are also regularly winning tournaments.
“Our boys are now beginning to be technically better than other countries we’re comparing ourselves to.
“It’s also really positive to have JD as the title sponsor for the programme. We presented our vision to them and they were more than happy to support us.
“Youth is their brand so it’s an ideal fit and it will be really important for the programme moving forward.”
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) - Joe McBride
St John’s High School (Dundee) - Iain Jenkins