There was an air of anticipation in the North East breeze, as the players of Stonehaven Youth FC returned to pre-season training.

The Aberdeenshire town, with a population of less than 10,000, will be running with two 11-a-side teams at the Under 13 age group this coming season. This comes in addition to the girls’ team whose season is already underway at the same age group. It’s the first time in recent memory that the club have managed such a feat, with participation levels growing every year.

Off the pitch, things are equally exciting for the grassroots players and volunteers. Thanks to an award from the Cashback for Communities fund, a brand new full size artificial pitch is in the pipeline.

Another area of progression for the club is the introduction of Positive Coaching Scotland methodology. All of the Stonehaven YFC coaches have been taken through the course, with the target of introducing the culture to all of the parents across the age groups.

Club Coordinator, Richard Thomas, said: “Over the past four years the club has been involved with the Scottish FA Quality Mark scheme. The foundations were always there, but the programme has really helped us push on. And it has brought the whole club together.”

“Our next step is to progress to the Community Award. As we work towards this we are in the process of creating links with the local amateur and junior clubs. It will be great to create a pathway that allows players to stay in Stonehaven.”

Graeme Sutherland, the North Regional Manager, said: "Stonehaven Youth FC have worked very hard alongside our local and regional football development staff to ensure a comprehensive range of coach education courses has been available to the volunteers at the club at a time and place that allows for maximum impact.

“We look forward to working with them as they continue towards the Scottish FA Community Quality Mark Award."