Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay visited Braidhurst High School today to cast his eye over the next group of performance school players as the open trial series got under way.
Braidhurst is one of seven regional Performance Schools operated by the Scottish FA throughout the country.
Now in the fifth year of operation, more than 300 young players have already been involved in the programme, with the first graduation of S4s taking place last summer.
The schools are a cornerstone of the performance strategy, an integral part of Scotland United: A 2020 Vision.
The new Performance Director continues his tour of the country, visiting club academies and performance schools as part of his preparations for implementing Project Brave, a series of recommendations aimed at improving the elite pathway and, in particular, the production of the most talented players through the development system known as Club Academy Scotland.
“In my early weeks in the job, I’ve already been struck by the collective passion and willingness to improve: from club chief executives, head coaches, directors of football, players and performance school coaches,” said Malky.
“We have a groundswell and it is important that we harness that to improve the next generations of young Scottish players.
"It starts here at Performance Schools such as Braidhurst and I am keen that we make that pathway more focused, more productive from the school field to, ultimately, the national stadium.
“Everyone benefits: better players can fulfil their aspirations, clubs get better in a more competitive league, the national teams benefit and supporters have a national game to be proud of.”
Malky was joined by Braidhurst Head Teacher Carolyn Rooney, performance coach Andy Goldie, as well as current and aspiring performance school players.
Among them are talented siblings Josh and Joe McPake, S4 and S1 players with Rangers and Motherwell respectively.
Braidhurst have 50 players in the programme across six clubs – Hamilton, Motherwell, Hibernian, Forth Valley, Rangers and Queen’s Park.
Jamie Semple (Motherwell) played in the Victory Shield and scored twice against Wales, John McCracken has transferred from Hamilton Academical to EFL Championship Norwich City while Tom Leighton, formerly of Motherwell, has joined Premier League Watford.