Seventy pupils celebrated landing a place in the prestigious Scottish FA JD Performance School programme during a ceremony at Hampden Park.

On the day Brian McLaughlin was confirmed as the new Scottish FA JD Performance School Manager, parents and pupils alike were treated to a day of activities at the National Stadium.

Performance School launch

With Radio Clyde’s Superscoreboard host Gordon Duncan hosting, Performance Director Malky Mackay kicking off proceedings with a rousing talk laying out just what a great opportunity those in the room had in front of them – pointing to Chelsea playmaker and Performance School graduate Billy Gilmour, amongst others, as proof of what can be achieved in the not too distant future through dedication and sacrifice.

While Brian stayed in the auditorium to talk the family members in attendance through what they can expect, the pupils themselves enjoyed a practical session in the Hampden warm-up area before being granted a team-talk in the famous dressing rooms that have housed some of the game’s greatest talents over the years.

Performance School launch

After a quick lunch it was back to the auditorium for a question and answer session for young and old alike.

Malky was joined by Scotland international midfielder Chris Cadden, who outlined exactly what it takes to get to the highest level and how envious he was of those who are being given the opportunity to cram in extra football training around their normal schoolwork.

Performance School launch

National youth team coaches Billy Stark, Fraser Stewart and Scot Gemmill were also on hand to share their experiences.

Last year 40 graduates earned professional contracts, with eight having already made their debuts for their respective teams - Logan Chalmers (Dundee United), Scott Reekie (Dundee United), Ethan Erahon (St Mirren), Dean Campbell (Aberdeen), Harry Cochrane (Heart of Midlothian), Anthony McDonald (Heart of Midlothian), Chris Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian) and Connor Smith (Heart of Midlothian).

Billy Gilmour

This year, Chris Hamilton and Billy Gilmour became the first Performance School graduates to be capped by Scotland Under-21s, at the prestigious Toulon tournament.

Billy captained Scotland, was named ‘Revelation of the Tournament’ and became the youngest player to ever score at 21s level.

Performance Schools pupils were shown to have a 4.5 per cent higher attendance rate compared to the school average, as well as 9.5 per cent higher National 5 results.

The challenge is there now for the new crop to do even better…