Though the Scottish FA has a number of showpiece spectacles – the upcoming Scottish Cup final in May and the Men’s national team being the obvious attractions – running in conjunction with the senior game's primary competitions this season are several other, less public and more holistic examples of the Scottish FA's involvement in the game.

After receiving investment from the Big Lottery Fund, the Scottish FA identified three clubs with "aspirations of boosting their positive impact on the local community and undertaking community asset transfers" – Second Division Annan Athletic, Junior side Jeanfield Swifts and Bonnyrigg Rose Community Football Club – for the Developing Community Football Clubs pilot project and set about helping them to help themselves.

Fundamentally, the plan was to "develop them into broader community assets, able to deliver extensive benefits to the people of their community that extend far beyond the boundaries of football."

The initiative has been a storming success.

"We are trying to get more clubs to recognise the value to their community," said Danny Bisland, the Scottish FA's Developing Community Clubs Project Manager.

"We are facilitators. The Big Lottery invested into us to come up with a support package to allow the clubs to put applications into the local authority or other funders, as well helping the clubs to understand how they engage with their local communities.

"There were initially around 50 clubs interested, we whittled the list down to 25 and after that we sat down and looked at the clubs' individually.

"Annan are there in terms of being a member club, in a rural community with aspirations to take over their stadium.

"Jeanfield Swifts have plans for social housing at one point but one of their main drivers is girls and women's football and that's why we went with them. Bonnyrigg Rose approached us and they wanted to develop a football and community campus.

"In the past, football clubs haven't been very good at talking themselves up. We have tried to help them with that.

"People at these clubs are predominately volunteers who give up a huge amount of their time. We want to make them more confident in what they were doing with their club and point them in the right direction, make them better equipped and skilled."

Bisland has been encouraged by the progress made by the three clubs who all have different priorities, issues and interests, while still focusing on their primary remit of playing football.

He said: "For instance, Bonnyrigg Rose have done a huge amount of work with youth engagement in their area, on mental health, and reached out to mothers, walking groups and other parts of their community. Annan are trying to become a community owned club.

"They are looking after their community. Getting a kick of the ball is only one part of the bigger picture, from society's point of view.

"We have also teamed up with an organisation called Sported, which, among other things, provide volunteer mentors from the business sector who come in and work with these clubs.

"It could be their business planning, community consultation or even their legal status. 

"We have also offered qualifications in the shape of the ILM (Institute of Learning Management) course in, which looks at developing community clubs in a similar way to clubs like Morton, Spartans and Falkirk.

"On the back of this project, we have developed a programme called Teamworks. Corporate organisations have agreed to offer voluntary placements with the football clubs, so we have Deloitte, Grant Thornton, Aberdeen Standard Life and Skyscanners signed up already, with business people going into clubs to help with off-field initiatives.

"The three pilot clubs are one of 100’s across Scotland doing an amazing amount of work and we want to help them.

“We are extremely grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for their investment into the Scottish FA, which has allowed us to help the pilot clubs and a number of others across the country, and shone a light on the tremendous work that they carry out within their communities.

“Football should be proud of the work that clubs carry out, week in week out, much of which is unseen in communities the length and breadth of Scotland.”

Bonnyrigg Rose

One of Scotland's most iconic football clubs, Bonnyrigg Rose, has expanded its focus from the pitch to nursery care to mental health and club secretary Jim Wilson and his colleagues could not be happier.

The Midlothian club have taken advantage of the support and help of the Scottish FA and its pilot project to engage with the community outwith matchdays at the weekend.

Wilson revealed how the club, which has over 500 players and 100 coaches involved in its various gender and age group teams, has slowly been turned into a business to the benefit of the local community as a whole.

"We had a few ideas in place prior to the Scottish FA's project but that helped us reaffirm our thoughts, borrow ideas and point us in directions we didn't think of," he said.

"We took over a sports pavilion which is surrounded by two grass pitches and one 3G pitch. We have applied to the local authority to take the whole lot on through a community asset transfer.

"We had a business mentor appointed, James King, and we took on a part-time club development officer, Trish Sime, funded by the players a £1 per month levy. We now have five employees at the club, one in administration, two caretakers at night to look after the facility and a young school leaver to maintain our social media outlets and website.

"We produced a football sticker book, like Panini, and we sold over 60,000 stickers. Kids went crazy for it. We made £4,000.

"Trish knew the right people in the local council to go and talk to and she came back with all the answers for a mental health seminar. From there it took off. Trish has the wherewithal to employ professional help for any kids who may have mental health issues and also for any who may need help with their monthly subs.

"We let a room out to a nursery and run a café from the kitchen area. There is affordable nursery care.  The help we have had has been fantastic for community engagement."

Annan Athletic

Chairman Philip Jones would happily admit that Annan Athletic are no Barcelona but would contend that they too are more than a football club.

The ambitious Second Division outfit from the south of Scotland, with the support of the Scottish FA, is restructuring while looking to take over their stadium and surrounding areas from the council through the Community Asset Transfer scheme.

It is with a view to protecting and "taking control" of the club's future in an uncertain senior football landscape while continually widening its reach and impact in mostly rural Dumfries and Galloway.

"The guidance from Scottish FA and Sported has changed the whole way we look at things," said Jones. "They have made us more focused than when we used to be run by a committee.  

"We are a Community Benefits Society – a charity in all but name -which is more common in England. You can only have one share no matter how much money you put in, £5000 or £10. We have an SPFL team within a charity, basically. The whole mind-set has changed. The football team is the hub which has generated interest in the community.

"We are doing a lot more in the community. We now have a business plan and funding plan and we are starting to employ young people as well, such as groundsman work and catering. We are looking to engage disengaged youngsters and we are improving it all the time.

"We have a clubhouse and an office and we are looking to develop them. We have a caravan site next door, a scout hall alongside our car park and we are looking to take the lot through a community asset transfer and the council are amenable to that.

"We have 65 volunteers and the club is used seven days per week. We have a para football team, a women's team, girls’ team, kids teams go from five years old to 17. The Rugby club and hockey club use our place and there is Zumba and bingo also on.

"We also have breakfast clubs for the kids we prepare people for interviews - all different things but at the same time we have to be mindful of the football and that is changing too.  We used to have a mini bus of players coming from Glasgow. Now we have a car load. We are more local and that is a good thing."

Jeanfield Swifts

Jeanfield Swifts' treasurer, Alan Esplin, is ready to help the Perth-based Junior side with some "grand" plans for the club and the local community thanks to the Scottish FA's ILM (Institute of Learning Management) course.

Swifts are looking to take over and develop their ground, with ambitions to ultimately help to provide social housing in the future, amid other initiatives.

Esplin, whose background is in banking, volunteered for the six-day ILM programme which also incorporates home study and he believes it has proved invaluable in terms of "understanding how to bring plans to life."

He said: "It started off the process of us thinking of what we needed to do with regards getting a business plan and our corporate structure sorted.

"I attended the courses held at some outstanding clubs which revealed different views and approaches and we found it very helpful.

"We are working to a time table with Danny Bisland and several others to bring the plan together which is to redevelop the whole of Jeanfield

"We need to get a corporate structure put in place to find out how the funding is accessed and things like that.

"I will get involved again more when the business plan is being brought up and I will bring in what I learned on the course.

"The council built a ground for the club in 2005 and it has a long-term lease over that and the pitches beside it. The idea would be to transfer that over to us through a community asset transfer and  for us to potentially sell back some of the land for social housing and also maybe put in a small area for social enterprise-type shops.

"It is quite a grand plan but what we do have is a lot of room to play with and the council have been quite supportive. A lot of what we do relies on volunteers but we do it for the enjoyment and seeing what could potentially happen.

"I help run the 2006 football team and my son is involved in that. We have 21 teams right across the age groups and we have a thriving girl’s and women's section as well. We have 50 kids at the Saturday morning soccer school at five, six years old and is great to think that they will have the opportunity to play for Jeanfield through every stage of their football career and that they and other members of the community will benefit from the development."