YFS News (134)
1) New Appointments for Hibs Women
Hibernian Women’s FC have made three new additions to their new Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) National Performance League coaching team.
Lewis Melee, Charlotte Potts and Kirk Phillips will make up the new-look Hibees’ coaching team as the trio seek glory in the newly rebranded SHAAP National Performance League.
Melee, previously of Dundee FC, has taken over the role after a successful stint as Community Development Manager for the Hibernian Community Foundation.
Potts, who joined the club as a player this summer from Sunderland Ladies AFC, will hope her playing experience in the women’s game will spur her youngsters on to follow in her footsteps.
Finally, Phillips, an MSc Sport Performance Enhancement Graduate from Wishaw, has joined the club on back of spells with Motherwell and Hibernian as a Sports Science Intern.
2) SFA Launch New Return to Football FAQ Page
A new ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page has been created on the official SFA website, providing guidance on a safe return to match-play.
Following the transition to ‘Phase Three’ of the SFA Joint Response Group’s Return to Football Route map, friendly matches have been granted permission to return from the 12th September, as long as they adhere to strict match day protocols.
This has left many clubs, coaches, parents and players with more specific questions for the football authorities as they look to enjoy a safe return to match play from next weekend.
The FAQ page provides you will with all you need to know to ensure you and your club can enjoy a safe return to playing matches.
Visit the Return to Football FAQ page by clicking here.
3) Celtic FC Women Appoint New Head of Girls' Academy
Tina Stewart has been appointed the new ‘Head of Girls’ Academy’ at Celtic FC.
Stewart joins the club from a role at the SFA and is no stranger to the Girls’ Academy programme at Parkhead. The ex-Celtic player played in the club’s first female Old Firm Derby before going onto become of one the first members of the coaching staff when the Women’s’ and Girls’ programme was launched back in 2007.
Stewart began coaching with the Under-11s and has since coached at every age group from u11s to Reserves. Everyone at YFS would like to wish Tina the best of luck in her new role!
4) Ngwenya Goes Pro for Dons
Kieran Ngwenya has signed a full-time professional contract with Aberdeen FC and has been named in the club’s reserve squad for the 2020/21 season.
Ngwenya featured regularly last season for the Dons’ U18 squad whilst impressively continuing his full-time studies.
The left-back joins from Tynecastle Boys Club where he became a Scottish Juvenile Youth player and a Scottish Youth FA Cup Finalist.
Everyone at YFS would also like to congratulate Kieran on his move and wish him every success in his career. Good luck, Kieran!
5) Bellshill Athletic Awarded with Lifesaving Defibrillator
Bellshill Athletic FC Development have been awarded with a lifesaving defibrillator from the Scottish Football Partnership Trust.
The SFPT, in partnership with The Kilpatrick Fraser Charitable Trust, will provide 12 community clubs with a defibrillator as part of the SFP Trust Defibrillator Project 2020.
The club’s official twitter account said: “We would like to thank everyone @SFP_football in awarding Bellshill Athletic with a defibrillator, the club is overwhelmed by the generosity."
The Scottish Football Association have announced the winners of the 2020 Grassroots Awards for this year in the Central, East, and North regions.
The awards, presented by McDonald’s and the Sunday Mail, honour the unsung heroes of the Scottish game.
Speaking to the SFA Website when the nominations for the awards first opened, SFA Head of Development, Andrew Gould said: “In the past year, the grassroots game has continued to flourish, but it feels particularly important to recognise the incredible work of those in the grassroots game at a time like this.”
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the awards ceremony was unable be held in person with the regional awards instead presented remotely via Zoom.
On the awards taking place amid the Coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has had on football, Gould continued: “The challenges presented by COVID-19 have been astronomical for everyone in football, from the very top level all the way through to the grassroots game.
“The dedication shown by thousands of volunteers across the country all year round deserves recognition, so I would like to thank everyone who commits their time and energy, as it is truly essential to our game.”
The awards are split into six categories, and the winners are as follows:
Best Volunteer in Youth Football
Central Region: John Reid
East Region: John Duncan – Chair & Coach at Crieff Juniors, Chair of Perth & Kinross Youth FA.
North Region: Carol Baxter – ADJFA Match Secretary
Best Volunteer in Adult Football
Central Region: William King – Chryston Amateurs
East Region: Bill McConnell – led support in creation of Walking Football League.
North Region: Karen Mason - Inverness Caledonian Thistle WFC
Best Volunteer in Girls’ & Women’s Football
Central Region: Davie Gray
East Region: Sandy McWilliam – Dryburgh Athletic Community Club
North Region: Neil Daniel – Donside Community FC
Best Para-Football Project
Central Region: Milngavie FC
East Region: Dundee United Para-Football Club – Dundee United Community Trust
North Region: Westdyke Community Club Cerebral Palsy Football
Best Community Football for All Project
Central Region: Milton FC and Bannockburn High School – School of Football
East Region: Montrose Community Trust
Best Young Volunteer
Central Region: Abbie Trotter
East Region: Jack Tindal – Arbroath Community Sports Club & Friockheim Primary School.
North Region: Paul Davidson – Colony Park Juveniles FC
Youth Football Scotland want to pass on their congratulations to all of this year’s winners and to those that got nominated.
To find out more about the SFA and grassroots football, go to https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/football-development/.
In a hectic week for Scottish football, both on and off the field, here are some of the exciting new stories you may have missed from YFS.
1) Yet More Teams Return to Training
Cranhill United FC, Coatbridge Rovers, Hutchie Vale Girls, Edinburgh City, Forfar Farmington
Thorn Athletic even went one step further; heading to the dunes for some tough running drills during pre-season – Craig Levein would love to see it!
2) Kerse United Pay Thanks to Medical Service
Following on from Hibs, Grangemouth-based side Kerse United will have “Thank You NHS” emblazoned on the front of their away kit next season, in recognition of the work provided in the Forth Valley and beyond.
Provided by Be Teamwear, the kit – which has been donated - will be made by Joma. The colour is a daring pink, selected by the players, and the badge will sit underneath a single black star to recognise the Scottish Cup triumph of 2019.
3) SYFA Exploring Dual Registrations
The fantastic news about a new Lowland Development League has now been followed by the news that the SYFA are exploring the possibility of dual registrations – allowing players to for both their SYFA team and teams from other Scottish FA associations and leagues.
The move would only affect those SYFA players within older age groups.
4) Castlevale Coaches Cycle to Raise Funds
This week, a group of coaches from Castlevale Youth Development Club cycled from Glasgow to Edinburgh to raise funds for the club after they suspended all club fees during lockdown.
The coaches raised over £2,500 to recuperate the money the club lost as a result of suspending fees. Castlevale’s 2010s coach and vice-chairman, Mike Douglas, spoke to YFS TV about the fundraiser and the impact it will have on the club over the course of the season.
Watch the full interview here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=761512954667222
You can also donate to Castlevale here: http://yfs.news/Castlevalefundraiser
5) Three Scottish Players Move to The States for Soccer Scholarships
Youth Football Scotland’s long-term partners Future Pro USA had three of their Scottish clients successfully travel to the US this week to pursue a soccer scholarship.
Aisha Maughan left Edinburgh Airport on Wednesday to join NCAA Division 1 side, Virginia Commonwealth University, after impressing for Hearts and Scotland back home.
Caden Beaton departed for the States on Tuesday to begin his journey to Des Moines, Iowa, where he will join the men’s soccer program at Grand View University.
Ex-St Johnstone man Thomas Gray flew out to Mississippi on Thursday to sign for NAIA powerhouse: William Carey University.
You can learn more about Future Pro USA and how you can also earn a soccer scholarship in the states here: http://yfs.news/futureprousa
In a brand new feature, Matthew Muir looks back at the week that was - highlighting stories that you may have missed from YFS' social feed.
1. Hutchie Vale’s young kids return to training.
Hutchison Vale’s Kids School continued training last week following some successful first sessions back on the pitch! After months of training on Zoom calls, YFS photographer Liliana Paterson was at hand to take photos as the kids took to the ball for the first time in five months.
2. Norrie McCathie Development Squad return to training.
Another club to return to training were the Norries, named after the late ex-Dunfermline player, Norrie McCathie. Despite, having to battle the elements of typical Scottish weather in their first session back, the young players were in high spirits as they returned to the pitch.
3. Scottish Premiership Academy make a comeback.
Hamilton Accies Academy were one of the latest professional football academy to return to training last week. Returning to the FOYS Stadium, coach George Cairns, had some wise words to say to his players
“It’s amazing to get the youth players back in and training. The past few months have been difficult for us all, however, if it’s taught us anything it’s to appreciate what we have.”
4. Ayrshire Academy praise players as training resumes.
Another one of many academy and youth clubs to make a return to training in the past few weeks, was Ayr United Academy. On announcing their return on social media, the Academy said
“After 365 days since they last kicked a ball, the teams are back. Well done to everyone to get to this point. Today saw the U11, U12, U13 and U15 boys training, keeping to the restrictions in place.”
The Academy also thanked the Scottish FA, Scottish FA South West Region and the Scottish Government for “their clear plan”.
5. Newburgh Juniors announce new signing.
Newburgh Juniors 2007’s youth team, based in Perthshire welcomed their newest player, Jack Moody to the squad. Moody will sport the number ‘22’ shirt and joins another three new players the ‘Burgh Boys’ have signed, in what was a busy week for the youth side.
6. Five go pro at Dundee United!
It was a busy week for the Dundee United Academy as they bolstered their squad with four players signing full-time professional contracts as well as one new signing.
Fin Malcolm, Miller Thomson, Sam Lovie and Dom Naglik are the four Young Terrors who put pens to two-year deals, while 17-year-old Jacob Comerford officially joined from Hutchison Vale Boys Club.
On Comerford, Director Andy Goldie said “We are also delighted to welcome Jacob Comerford from Hutchison Vale Boys Club with the view of offering him a full-time contract in the future.”
7. Summer Coaching sessions finish as school return nears.
With all Scottish schools to return from tomorrow (Tuesday 11) and to be back full-time by Monday 18, summer coaching sessions were coming to an end. Sessions were coached by FTBL Elite Coaching, Football Buzz and Box Soccer. YFS were along to capture photos of final sessions.
The Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) have announced that they have received a donation of £300,000 from Scottish football philanthropist James Anderson.
The funding boost, which comes through the Scottish Football Partnership Trust, is predicted to benefit over 4,000 youth teams and 60,000 players ahead of next season.
Speaking to the SFP Trust’s official website, SYFA chairman John McCrimmond said: “We would like to express the utmost gratitude to James Anderson for this outstanding gesture and, of course, to the Scottish Football Partnership for their ongoing support.”
The donation comes to the SYFA after the SFP Trust identified that support would be needed to cover additional costs that are presented due to the need for increased safety procedures.
These safety procedures include: PPE, medical kits, hand sanitisers, training kit and footballs.
The SFP Trust and the SYFA have already highlighted that this funding will cover costs of membership/affiliation fees for teams that compete in small-sided and eleven-aside leagues, who have had their season disrupted.
The SYFA cover the majority of age groups in Scottish youth football, up to under-21 level, which means there are over 4,000 teams and over 62,000 players who play under the SYFA banner.
“The ability to provide an entire season of SYFA membership free of charge to every team in Scotland will go some way to relieving this burden," McCrimmond said.
The majority of the SYFA operational costs are covered by membership fees which are normally payed by youth teams.
An earlier SYFA statement said: “The donation will help alleviate increased costs that clubs and parents face due to the new safety measures associated with Covid-19 pandemic and also support coaching, sports first aid and grassroots volunteers." the statement concluded.
The SYFA chairman also expressed how important it is to get youth players back playing football: “Whilst the spotlight has been on the professional game, it is at grassroots level that the vast majority of football in this country”.
“Last season we had more than 60,000 registered players who haven’t been able to play football for four months now.”
“This money will help ensure that we get as many of those players back on the pitch as soon as possible.”
Importantly, the SFA have confirmed a staged approach that will allow for the grassroots sides to return to competitive football by late Autumn.
The four-stage approach is as follows:
Stage 1 - Return to restricted contact training for adults.
Stage 2 - Full return to contact training.
Stage 3 - Local inter club match activity (including local friendly matches).
Stage 4 - Return to affiliated competitions.
While no official return dates have been confirmed, the SFA are hopeful of a return to full competition by late Autumn, with mid-October being identified as the earliest possible date.
Thomas McKeown, Scottish FA Board Director and Chair of the JRG Grassroots Sub Group said: “The Scottish FA has been encouraged to see so many clubs engaging with their local community, enabling people to return safely to a restricted programme of football training and activity.”
“As we continue to plan ahead, the Grassroots sub group of the Scottish FA Coronavirus Joint Response Group has created tentative plans providing a framework to inform Affiliated National Associations and Leagues of the steps which could allow a return to competition to take place, given any future approval by the Scottish Government.”
The planned changes could see competitive grassroots football return for the first time since all football was indefinitely suspended in March 2020.
McKeown went onto add: “It must be stressed that the return to competition requires many factors to be considered and will be predicated on the continued progress being made in Scotland against the virus.
"Therefore, dates are only indicative and are subject to change based on public health guidance. Each stage will also be based upon the continued easing of restrictions and with approval of the Scottish Government.”
“Whilst there are no specific dates available at this point, the Scottish FA will work with Affiliated National Associations and Leagues via the Grassroots Sub Group to identify how the stages above could be implemented and what protocols will be required.”
“The Scottish FA would like to thank everyone involved in the game for continuing to support the phased return of football and for following the current guidelines in place.”
With a phased approach now in place, these potential changes offer a glimmer of hope for grassroots players across the country, who have been starved of competitive action for over four months.
COVID-19 has changed the world in many ways. All sectors have already felt the heat with schools being the most affected. First, these institutions that accommodate learning kids and teens were forced to close doors since March this year. But after much deliberation, many countries are thinking of reopening schools and allowing students to continue with their studies. Apart from classroom learning, school competitions such as sports, debates, and practical projects will still have to go on since they are in the curriculum.
Governments have already set school reopening measure that includes handwashing, monitoring of kids' health, and social distancing as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus in schools. For instance, the UK schools have plans to reopen before summer ends and all learning institutions have to adhere to the set guidelines.
Extra Temporary Classrooms
The priority for all UK schools in Europe, the USA, and other parts of the world is to have extra classrooms. Students will use most of their limited time in school learning. Hence, there is a rush to make temporary classrooms since they are affordable.
Fortunately, experienced temporary structure providers such as Smart Space companies in the UK have numerous turnkey solutions for any school. Their temporary classrooms can be built almost anywhere because they can fit in any space including hidden and hard to reach corners.
Schools that have embraced the use of temporary classrooms should consider the following facilities to ensure that social distance is maintained and pupils are safe:
• Enough space - The main reason to go for this option is to create more space for social distancing. The minimum distance from one desk to the other is 1.5 meters. It’s no wonder why it is now called the 1.5-meter economy. There is no compromise.
• Glass boundaries - Although it seems like a lot of work, it is better to install a glass boundary or protector right in front of every desk. Students and pupils, especially the young ones, might need to interact with their friends when borrowing items from each other, and this will stop the spread of the virus.
Extra Temporary Halls for Competitions
Apart from temporary classrooms, which are crucial to curb the spread of the virus in UK schools or any other part of the world, there is a need for extra temporary halls for competition. Schools cannot completely scrap sports and other competitions that are done in halls.
Again, Smart Space experts are the best in this. They have a variety of options when it comes to materials for frames, covers, flooring, and other amenities in the halls. What schools need to know is that the budget also varies depending on the factors that we have mentioned. The custom-made solutions from Smart Space are better than the modular option because they will be made to suit the current needs of the school. Hence, it is better to visit the official website and give them a call to discuss this further.
Since it might be difficult to have halls that accommodate all students at once while maintaining social distance, teachers can subdivide the students into small groups for a variety of competitions. For instance, indoor sports should only be attended by the players and a small audience that is following the set social distance guidelines.
These temporary halls should have enough ventilation to allow the free circulation of air at all times. The providers of these halls will further advise on other ways that these halls can lower the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Other Structures to Promote Social Distance in Schools
Apart from classrooms and competition halls, schools must also think about extra space for the library, laboratories, and dining areas if these will be used. Social distance is necessary to avoid putting students at risk. If the budget is tight, some of the competition halls can be converted for other uses. However, libraries need to be expanded, and again, Smart Space knows how to go about this. They can expand any library, even ones with hard to reach spaces.
It is clear that temporary structures are the best solutions to increase space in schools. Whether your school is looking for extra classrooms or a package that entails competition halls and libraries, these structures are the best for you. Talk to the experts today to comply with social distance guidelines for schools.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today confirmed that from July 13th, children and young people across Scotland can resume playing outdoors sports - permitting that government guidelines are followed.
“Contact and physical sports can resume for children and young people subject to guidance being followed from July 13th,” Sturgeon confirmed.
The “guidance” that the First Minister mentioned means that should infection rates rise and the move is deemed unsafe, the government can go into “reverse gear” and shut it down again.
Announcements from respective footballing bodies are expected to be made in due course, with Scottish Women's Football (SWF) making a statement on July 10th.
The First Minister previously stated in her Phase Two briefing that July 13th was the provisional date for outdoor sports to resume and today was delighted to confirm these plans.
Youth Football in Scotland has been at a complete standstill since Scotland went into lockdown on March 20th and many young players are eager to get back out kicking a ball for their respective clubs.
This guideline would now potentially allow coaches at grassroots clubs to conduct small grouped training sessions with their players as preparation ahead of the new season.
Sturgeon however said non-professional adult sports will not resume before July 31st but her government will work closely to get sports up and running as soon as possible.
The First Minister also confirmed to the nation that Scotland would be moving from Phase Two into Phase Three of the Covid-19 lockdown route map.
The First Minister explained why the changes from Phase Two into Phase Three were being implemented: “Covid-19 has now been supressed in Scotland to a low level even in the last 3 weeks since I last updated parliament there has been significant progress”.
“We can move from Phase Two into Phase Three in lockdown restrictions as we have assessed the progress against tackling covid-19 against the six criteria for this stage set out by the World Health Organisation and we have concluded that we meet each of them.”
A full list of Covid-19 Phase Three restrictions will be posted on the Scottish Governments website later today.
The Scottish Lowland Development League have tonight announced how the new East and West Regions will be structured for season 20/21.
Last week, 68 teams were confirmed to be taking part in the brand new Lowlands Development League – but this is the first announcement as to the set up of each new conference.
The 30-team East Region is split into two conferences, with 16 teams in Conference A and 14 teams in Conference B.
The 38-team West Region is split into three conferences, in a 14-12-12 split.
The layout for the East Conferences is as follows:
Gala Fairydean Rovers
Kennoway Star Hearts
Kirkcaldy & Dysart
Civil Service Strollers
Hill of Beath Hawthorn
Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts
Lothian Thistle HV
University of Stirling
The layout of the West Conferences is as follows:
Kirkintiloch Rob Roy
Vale of Leven
Ardrossan Winton Rovers
Currently there is no confirmed date to when the new Development League will proceed with fixtures, however the West of Scotland Football League are aiming to have their season potentially up and running by October.
A total of 68 teams across Scotland have been confirmed to be playing in the newly formed Lowlands Development League, with clubs split into an East and West Conference, although it has still to be determined which conference each club will fall into.
There will be two league conferences in the East, with a 16-14 split, and three conferences in the West, with a split of 14-12-12.
The league will become part of the SPFL pyramid and will be known as the sixth tier while acting as a feeder to the Scottish Lowland Football League and brand new West of Scotland Football League, directly above.
The newly founded league campaign has been set a start date for October but will be in accordance of the guidelines set out by the Scottish Government and the SFA due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
There will be cup competitions throughout the campaign with two in the East and West and one where all 68 clubs will participate.
The list below, shows each of the 68 clubs and in which Conference, albeit not determined they could potentially play under.
East Conference – 30 teams
· Blackburn United
· Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic
· Civil Service Strollers
· Dalkeith Thistle
· East Fife
· Edinburgh City
· Edinburgh South
· Edinburgh United
· Edinburgh University
· Gala Fairydean Rovers
· Heriot Watt University
· Hill of Beath Hawthorn
· Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts
· Jeanfield Swifts
· Kelty Hearts
· Kennoway Star Hearts
· Kirkcaldy and Dysart
· Leith Athletic
· Lothian Thistle HV
· Musselburgh Athletic
· Penicuik Athletic
· Preston Athletic
· University of Stirling
· Whitehill Welfare
West Conference – 38 teams
· Ardrossan Winton Rovers
· Beith Juniors
· Bellshill Athletic
· Benburb Juniors
· Blantyre Victoria
· Bonnyton Thistle
· BSC Glasgow
· Caledonian Braves
· Carluke Rovers
· Cumbernauld Colts
· Cumnock Juniors
· Drumchapel United
· East Kilbride
· Forth Wanderers
· Irvine Meadow
· Johnstone Burgh F.C
· Kilwinning Rangers
· Kirkintilloch Rob Roy
· Largs Thistle
· Maryhill F.C
· Maybole Juniors
· Mid Annandale
· Neilston Juniors
· Newmains United
· Pollok F.C.
· Renfrew F.C.
· St Anthony's
· St Cadocs Youth Club
· St Roch's
· Troon F C
· Vale of Leven
· Whitletts Victoria
· Yoker Athletic
Grassroots football will be able to return on July 13th after Nicola Sturgeon announced an advancement of easing lockdown measures.
The first batch of new guidelines for Phase Three were confirmed by the First Minister on June 24 as she addressed the Scottish Parliament.
Sturgeon stated that she hopes to implement “some changes that will give young people the opportunity to mix with their friends.
“I can confirm now that organised outdoor sports for children and young people can, subject to guidance, resume from the July 13th.”
The First Minister went on to reiterate that such changes will only take place if we are successful in continuing to suppress the virus.
This is the first formal mention of organised outdoor contact sports at any point in the Scottish Government’s route map as teams now have time to prepare for a return to the field, subject to government guidance.
All football in Scotland was suspended with immediate effect on March 13th and only professional clubs have been able to return to training thus far.
The exact guidance for a safe return to football is yet to be sanctioned, however, it is unlikely that teams will be able to engage in full contact matches immediately.
The First Minister’s announcement reinforces comments made by the SFA’s Head of Football Development, Andy Gould, to Sky Sports Scotland yesterday that Phase Three “offers hope for grassroots football”.
Additionally, from June 29th, outdoor sports courts can re-open and from July 3rd the distance of travel for leisure and exercise will be relaxed.
The news was followed by the announcement of the reopening of restaurants, beer gardens and hairdressers among others that promise to return Scotland to an adapted normality.
Scotland’s future move to Phase Three of lockdown presents “hope” for grassroots football, according to the Scottish FA’s Head of Football Development, Andy Gould.
Gould told Sky Sports Scotland that: “When we look at the phases, Phase Three does present an opportunity for us. We have had dialogue in the previous week, with Professor Jason Leitch, which was really good as it gave us an insight into where we are in following the Governments’ route-map out of lockdown.”
Professor Leitch CBE is the Clinical Director of the Scottish Government and a highly-respected Professor at the University of Dundee.
Leitch said in an interview for the SFA ,on Thursday 23rd June, that: “The next three-week review will be very important…then we will be hopeful that we can progress”.
Gould added to that, saying: “There is the opportunity for us to get back to some sort of formal activity, in small numbers with young people back on the pitch and all the guidelines around that in a physically distanced environment.”
“We have seen that in other countries, although we are a few weeks behind, but now we can begin to plan and prepare for that and that environment starting to unlock leading into August and the schools coming back”.
Many people had expected this to be announced, but the SFA haven’t spoken on the topic since they released their Phase 2 plan until now.
This is a big step for the return, however, some players and fans are beginning to become more impatient due to the return of top leagues such as the Bundesliga and the English Premier League.
Although the hope is there, Gould highlighted the realism around the situation and how they are challenges that we will have to work around.
“There are challenges there in terms of facilities, for example schools and whether or not they will be accessible. The same in regard to the local authority’s leisure clubs and whether they will open at the same time.”
“We are going to have to work very closely and have patience as we work through that process. We will have to have really good communication and dialogue between clubs and local authorities so they are able to understand what they can and cannot do.”
The SFA have now released a ‘Return to Football Hub’ which can be found at https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/football-development/return-to-football-hub/ .
This is a useful section of their website that provides clarity, resources and information for football players, parents, coaches, fans and clubs about what football-related activities you are able to do now and in the near future.
Kevin Thomson admitted he “nearly lost his love for football” at the very start of his career, in an exclusive interview with YFS’ Adam Binnie.
Speaking on his time at Coventry as a youth player, Thomson was able to impart vital advice to youngsters who are forging their path in football.
“Coventry tested my resolve” said Thomson, as he opened up about the bullying he was subjected to by his teammates in England, saying he didn’t feel as “streetwise” as necessary due to his upbringing in Peebles.
Starting as a youngster at Peebles Rovers, Thomson quickly progressed to Hutchison Vale, a team also known for producing Allan McGregor and Leigh Griffiths.
From Hutchison Vale, Thomson found himself on trial with Coventry City however, not everything went to plan in his time down south, as he found multiple problems occurring in his time there.
Despite this, he signed his first professional contract in the West Midlands due to his outstanding ability but again, Thomson he felt himself “gravitating towards becoming a cheeky teenager.”
The 35-year-old admitted had a cocky confidence having signed a professional contract and he found himself beginning to “test the boundaries” in a negative way in multiple aspects of his life, such as staying out past his curfew.
After a few months at Coventry, he left the club and moved back to Scotland, feeling his time there had a negative impact on him. Being back home and able to have a chilled kick about with his friends really brought this love for the game and soon after, he was on trial with Hibernian.
Just fifteen minutes into his trial at Hibs, he was offered a contract and joined a team regarded as specialists in bringing through youth players at the time.
Thomson was in a team alongside Scott Brown, Steven Whittaker and other players that would go on to be full internationals, much like Kevin himself.
Tom Miller, of Rangers TV, accompanied the chat and chipped in with interesting insight, opinions and questions throughout and called Thomson’s era at Hibs a “golden generation”.
Throughout the interview, Thomson pointed out that hard work is the most important thing in football, adding: “The player that moans about hard work is the player who never succeeds, the player who embraces hard work is the player who gets to the top”.
He makes it clear that he always embraced hard work and that got him to the highest level in football. This is a mindset he transfers to his under-18 Rangers side that he currently coaches.
Going back to his own playing career, Thomson talked through the £2million move to Rangers. His time at Ibrox included an Old Firm winning goal and a UEFA Cup run that saw him reach the final of the competition against all odds.
After Rangers Thomson found himself having spells at Middleborough, Hibs and Dundee before retiring in 2016. Since the end of his football career, Kevin has enjoyed a media career with both Rangers TV and BT Sport. Alongside his coaching role in the Rangers Academy and the launch of his own private coaching academy, The Kevin Thomson academy.
Be sure to watch Adam Binnie’s interview on the YFSTV YouTube channel for a more interesting and in-depth look at Kevin’s career as a whole. You can subscribe here.
In a special treat for prize winners in the Keep Scotland Active campaign run by Youth Football Scotland, Owen Coyle sat down with Dr David Duke MBE, founder and CEO of Street Soccer Scotland, for a live Q&A over Zoom.
The chat was also open to those who have benefitted from Duke's philanthropic social enterprise; that uses football to create positive change in the lives of socially disadvantaged adults and young people across the country.
Owen Coyle scored 297 career goals for 12 different clubs in his time as a professional footballer and has taken charge of 468 games as a manager across 3 continents. Yet, 35 years on from his professional debut, where he replaced his older brother as a substitute to dispatch a winning penalty for Dumbarton, Coyle has not forgotten where it all began.
The ex-Premier League manager attributes most of his success to his upbringing in the Gorbals, where he was one of nine children in a working-class Irish immigrant family. Dominating the dusty ash pitches of St Francis Primary School seems an impossible stretch away from netting a goal in a play-off final in front of 64,000 at Wembley to promote Bolton Wanderers to the Premier League. But nothing was impossible for the young striker.
The story of his rise to football prominence provided inspiration and entertainment for the audience as Coyle and host Duke discussed the intricacies of how he made it as both a player and manager.
At 16, he turned down the opportunity to play for Jim McLean’s Scottish champions Dundee United to follow in his two older brothers’ footsteps and pull on the yellow and black of Dumbarton. Coyle would go on to command £1,000,000 in transfer fees in the 90s with moves to Clydebank, Airdrieonians, Bolton Wanderers, Dundee United and Dunfermline Athletic.
The forward’s £175,000 transfer to Airdrieonians in 1990 was a Scottish First Division record at the time, but the now fans’ favourite tells of how he was not always so popular around Airdrie:
“Two weeks before I signed for Airdrie, I played there for Clydebank and I scored twice, and we beat them! On my way in (to the changing rooms), this Airdrie fan was giving me dog's abuse, calling me everything under the sun. So, the police officer had to say to the guy ‘Listen, settle yourself down, that’s enough of that’.
"Anyway, two weeks later, I made my debut against Ayr United and I scored a hat-trick. I was coming into the pavilion and this guy shouted ‘Hey Coyle’ and I thought to myself ‘Oh no, not again’ so I turned round and looked at the guy and he said “By the way son, I’m sorry - you’re the best thing since sliced bread!”
In his first season at Airdrie, Coyle then won the top goal scorer award on his side’s journey to promotion to the SPL as well as reaching the Scottish Cup Final. As a result, Airdrie gained automatic qualification to the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup where they would narrowly lose out to Sparta Prague the following season.
The audience were also greeted with a bonus special guest as former Rangers full back, Ally Dawson, joined the call, after a series of technical difficulties, to chat with Owen about their time together at Airdrie.
Coyle spoke fondly of his playing career which included winning promotion to the English Premier League and a run to the Coca-Cola Cup Final (currently known as the Carabao Cup) with Bolton to face Liverpool.
He first entered the field of management with Falkirk as he and John Hughes led the side to promotion to the SPL as co-player/managers in the club’s farewell season at Brockville Park, where Coyle would also finish as top goal scorer and player of the season.
However, his transition to full time management did not follow the same theme as his fairy-tale ending as a player. When approached about the St Johnstone managerial position, Coyle told the audience of how his career could have wen very differently after inviting the Club Chairman, Geoff Brown, to his holiday lodge in Dunkeld:
“I wanted to make a good impression so I asked if he’d like a tea or coffee… and he said ‘yeah, I’d love a coffee’ and that threw me because I don’t drink coffee. Anyways, I found the coffee, added milk and sugar, and brought it through to him. We spoke for an hour and the conversation couldn’t have went any better and he said I’ll be in touch sooner rather than later. So, my wife comes back in and she says ‘I hope that was worth it’- and I said ‘It couldn’t have went any better, but, the only thing was he threw me at the beginning as he asked for a coffee. Anyways, I eventually found it,’ and she says ‘Owen, we don’t have coffee’ and I said, ‘yeah we do’ and she said ‘That’s bisto gravy you clown!’ So I picked the phone up and phoned Geoff to tell him and apologise and he said ‘Oh yeah, I thought there was a funny tang to it, anyway, while I have you, I’d like to offer you the job’ and that’s how it came about”
Coyle preceded to promote St Johnstone and Burnley to the top flights of their respective nations before managing Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Houston Dynamo, Blackburn Rovers, Ross County and now Chennaiyin in the Indian Super League. Along the way he has played a role in the development of players such as Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge and Gary Cahill to name a few.
He finished by chatting to another special guest, Andy Hook, Director of Football Development at Slum Soccer, about both of their experiences of working in Football in India. Coyle said he is excited about the future of Indian football and believes with the right infrastructure there is no reason as to why the nation cannot go on to produce world-class players for clubs in Europe.
Coyle’s fascinating career, as told by the man himself, helped to provide inspiration and entertainment in these tough times for Street Soccer Scotland’s members and for Youth Football Scotland’s ‘Keep Scotland Active’ campaign prize winners.