Scotland assistant national coaches Mark McGhee and Stuart McCall watched some potential stars of the future in action as the recruitment process for year four of the Scottish FA Regional Performance School programme began in earnest.
Over 350 players gathered at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility over this weekend for a Primary Seven festival – the first event in this year’s selection process for the elite player development programme, sponsored by healthy energy drink, Little Big Shot.
Applications are currently being welcomed from young players from both recreational and pro clubs around the country.
30 trials will take place over February and March as the applicants are whittled down to approximately 100 boys and girls, who will enter the programme at the start of the next school year in August 2015.
Already more than 300 players are involved in the programme across S1, S2 and S3, and have benefitted from individual skills development, sports science and nutrition – all of which are incorporated into their educational curriculum.
18 pupils from the programme have already received call-ups to Scotland National Youth Team squads, with a number of players who were part of the first ever Performance School intake set to feature in this year’s under-15 squad.
Scottish FA Chief Executive, Stewart Regan, said: “The Performance Schools are a key part of our £15 million performance strategy and this is always an exciting time of year, as we get ready to select the next group of talented boys and girls.
“We have seen some encouraging results and performances from our National Teams in recent years, and the investment that we are making now, at this level, is designed to bring success in years to come.
“There’s no doubt about it, this is a challenging programme that requires a great deal of commitment from players and parents, but the rewards could be enormous for the individuals, and the country.
“We’ve seen the benefits of the schools through the continual analysis of the players currently in S1-S3, and that is starting to benefit the National Teams, with the first crop of young players already breaking in to our squads. The extra eight hours of football practice per week not only makes players better, but the schools have also noted improvement in grades.??
“Our next Performance Director will be a key appointment as we look to build on this good work.”
Mark McGhee said: “The young players who are selected for the Scottish FA’s Regional Performance Schools have a wonderful opportunity to begin a journey to the very top of the game.
“It’s encouraging for the most talented young players in Scotland to see that they have a clear pathway in to the National Teams, starting here as under-12s.
“Working with Scotland, it becomes clear that the success of the National Teams can have a huge impact on the next generation.
“I believe that representing your country at a major tournament is the pinnacle of a player’s career. It’s down to the men’s and women’s A squad players and staff to show what is possible at the top of the game, giving young players like these goals to aspire to.”
The Little Big Shot Regional Performance School Programme is the cornerstone of the Scottish FA’s Performance Strategy. The programme is open to boys and girls, and runs from S1 to S4.
The Scottish FA has employed seven full-time Elite Youth Coaches, who will have responsibility for the delivery of the programmes in each of the seven schools. They will be assisted when required by National Youth Team Coaches, club coaches, sports scientists and other specialist experts. The programme will also complement and supplement players’ club football, thus ensuring a player-centred approach that will give them the best chance to fulfil their potential.
To apply, young players entering S1 in August 2015 should visit www.scottishfa.co.uk/performance
The deadline for applications for pro club players is 1st February, and for recreational club players it is 15th February.
Healthy energy drink Little Big Shot is the title sponsor of the Regional Performance School Programme and the prestigious Youth Cup www.littlebigshot.com
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