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Sunday, 09 August 2015 00:00

Lenzie aim to push on from mid-table finish

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Lenzie Youth Club under-14s took their spot in the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth District league last season, with seven other teams challenging them for the title.

After Rochsoles, last year’s league winners, folded in December, Lenzie would have been hoping to capitalise. Unfortunately for head coach, Billy Inglis, after drawing eight out of 18 games, Lenzie found themselves out of the running for any title.

Inglis spoke to Youth Football Scotland to discuss the last season and next: "The seven teams in the league played each other on three occasions, they were all very much of the same standard, and anyone could beat each other."

"Our high in the league was beating the league leaders, Jimmy Johnstone Academy, and drawing with the third-placed Gartcairn. Both were good sides."

There was some light at the end of the tunnel for Lenzie. "We won the Blackpool Plate and the 30th anniversary Lenzie festival, both of them in 2015," Inglis said.

The head coach of the East Dumbartonshire side did not want to pick out any particular teams as league rivals for the next campaign, insisting that "probably all of our league competition [will challenge]".

Lenzie players began their pre-season preparations on the 29th of July. As well as having several bounce games in the pipeline, Inglis’s boys also have the Colts festival ahead of them, which will surely stand them in excellent stead for the season.

He also certainly feels that his team can improve in multiple areas: "[We want] better form in the CKYDL League, as several stronger teams have joined from the Central Scotland FA League."

Good luck to Lenzie Youth Club under 14s in the 2015/16 CKYDL League!

 

This weekend the Loch Lomond Festival kicks off for its 15th year, and with 70 teams of boys and girls coming from four different countries, the festival promises to provide another excellent footballing showcase.

Gordon Dickson, one of the co-founders of the festival told Youth Football Scotland that the Loch Lomond Festival is “recognised as Scotland’s finest Youth Soccer Festival.” With the roots of the festival in Balloch, Loch Lomond, due to what Dickson calls “steady growth”, the festival is now located at Stirling University.

After adding a successful under-14s pro-youth academy age group in 2014, Dickson said that “in 2015 we will host an under-17s pro-youth academy age group as well as soccer sevens Boys 2004-2006, Boys 1999-2003 and girls 1998 and 2000 for 11 v 11 matches.”

With teams as notable as Celtic, Partick Thistle and Sheffield United gracing the turf alongside young footballers from across Scotland coming from as far away as Shetland, the quality of the football on show will surely be high and competitive. Not only does the festival attract the best of Scotland, but with five teams travelling from the USA and Northern Ireland being represented in two age groups by Lisburn Rangers, the tournament’s reputation as the premier youth football festival in Scotland is evident.

On top of this, Dickson states that “we also welcome scouts from the Scottish National team programmes and from the UK’s top professional clubs who all take the opportunity to identify the top talent on show.”

It is not all about football though, Dickson said that "the event unites young athletes from around the world who leave our country with the very best memories and many new friends.

"[We] hope that it is a platform for young players to perform in a competitive and sporting manner, but at the same time have fun…We also have a social program which aids the promotion of friendship throughout the event."

Despite the fact that the festival is competitive in the older age groups, Dickson had these words of advice for the players coming to Stirling. “Put 100% effort in to your game, play in a sporting manner and above all have fun and seize the opportunity to meet new friends.”

With a varied list of past winners at the festival, including Rangers SABC, Burnhead Colts, Falkirk FC, Shetland, Upper Vancouver Island United (Canada) and Seacoast United (USA) we here hope that the weekend is enjoyable for all involved and good luck to all taking part!

Monday, 03 August 2015 12:00

Marvellous Milton 2002s celebrate double

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Last season Milton 2002s underwent their first campaign as an 11-a-side team, and they begin it in style, achieving a double as they won both the FVFDA 13s League title, and the FVFDA League Cup.

Youth Football Scotland spoke exclusively to Milton manager, Terry Ferguson, regarding last season, and the one ahead: “It was a fantastic beginning to our debut season at 11-a-side football. In our first year we completed the double by winning the FVFDA U13s League Title along with FVFDA League Cup, whilst being defeated finalists in the divisional trophy.”, he said.

Narrowly missing out on a unique treble, Ferguson has his eyes set on similar fortunes: “Our aim is to continue and progress from last season’s success, whilst ensuring the players continue their development and education within the game”, the manager of the Stirling outfit said.

“Also, to build on our achievements and enhance the enjoyment within the club.”

One key factor in Milton achieving their champions’ status, was without doubt, an 11 game unbeaten streak which saw them climb to the summit of the league table.

The manager of the club, who play their home games at Wallace High School, told us of the teams he sees posing a threat to Milton’s title next season. “Boness pushed us to the last few games of the season, whilst Dunblane have always proved to be difficult opposition”

“Two new teams have joined in, Bonnybridge and Central Academy, and they provide the unknown factor in the league, with consistency being the key to a long season.”

A solid and active pre-season schedule is a vital factor in any team’s upcoming season, and Ferguson’s men are no different. “We started on the 28th of July, on the basis of four hard sessions based on stamina work, and then onto match sharpness, with a programme of four friendlies over a ten day period.”, he said.

“Hopefully the friendlies against other league opposition will provide us with the stamina and sharpness required to begin the new season on a good footing.”

Ferguson has his eye on a few potential recruitments before the campaign gets underway: “Our season’s success has provided interest from other players within the leagues and has allowed us to view various players during pre-season.”, he said.

“We are hopeful that some will become long term signings and commit to our ideas and development within the club whilst enhancing our playing squad through the new season.”

All the best to Milton 2002s in the 2015/16 FVFDA league!

After an extremely successful season for the Burnhead Colts, with the 2000s winning the league, the Loch Lomond Tournament and the Invitational Tournament, club secretary Alan Adam says that the squad is targeting another successful year going into the 2015/16 season. 

"Our team had a fantastic season last year," said Adam. "We also had a good run in the Scottish Cup and were unlucky to lose out in penalties in the Central Region Cup semi-final." With such a successful year despite the near misses in the cups, it is no wonder Adam claims that "it will be difficult to better the season before".

Pre-season is well underway for the South Lanarkshire club, and with the Loch Lomond Tournament just around the corner, the club is aiming to become champions for a fourth consecutive year despite "a very competitive tournament with eight strong teams".

Adam’s squad is also looking strong for the forthcoming season. He told Youth Football Scotland that "we also had four players turn out regularly for the regional team and a player was invited to the national squad at the end of the season" alongside "four new players having a look at us". With  view to sign the four triallists once "[we] make sure we are right for him", Adam believes that it will leave the club "very strong for the season ahead".

Quality opponents face Burnhead however in the league, with Cumbernauld Star, Seafar, and Calderbraes all posing a challenge to the Colts alongside teams that Adam described as "progressing well at the end of last season and who will be more competitive". The aims for the Colts are far more national however, with Adam also aware of the threat teams such as Hamilton Accies, Crosshouse, Syngenta, and Tynecastle will pose in the Scottish Cup with possible dark horses Bathgate and Drumsagard described as "a couple of teams to look out for this season".

Good luck to Burnhead Colts 2000s for the 2015/16 season!

Monklands based football side Coatbridge Rovers are planning for a repeat of last season’s title success, when they managed to secure the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth under-15s B League by a whopping 13 points over nearest rivals New Stevenson. On their way to being crowned league champions, Rovers managed to keep a 100% winning record and scored an astonishing 136 goals in the process.

A large part of that success is down to the hard work of team manager Gary Flint and his coaching staff. Flint has been involved with the team now for three years and brings with him a wealth of experience, not only is he team manager at Coatbridge Rovers but he is also involved with SPFL League Two champions Albion Rovers where he is kitman and a first team coach.

A proud Flint told Youth Football Scotland that “last season was a very successful season for the club, with the team winning the league playing 21 games and winning 21 games. It’s a great achievement.

"This season we are aiming to keep the squad together and continue on from last season."

The good news for Rovers is that 18 of last season's squad have signed on again for the coming campaign.

The side are back into their pre-season training regime early and as Flint explained: "At the moment the boys are back training two nights a week and have put in a lot of hard work for the season ahead."

The players have been developing their skills for the step up to a different league in which they are unsure of the opposition at the moment as the league lineup has yet to be confirmed. This should not prove to be a problem as Flint has a simple aim for the season ahead.

"Our ambition is to go into the A league and win as many games as we can and see what comes of it at the end of the season," he said.

Friday, 07 August 2015 00:00

Kilsyth Athletic aim to challenge for title

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Kilsyth Athletic had an excellent season last season, with victory in the Central Scotland FA League Cup and Knockout Cup, alongside an impressive fourth-place finish in the league. The North Lanarkshire club experienced disappointment in the Scottish and Central Region Cups however with their coach John Crainie saying that "in the games we went out we really didn’t play well at all and I just feel we could have gone further in these competitions".

Overall Crainie was delighted with last season stating that he was "very pleased with our first season at competitive 11 a-side" with a season highlight being the defeat of Cleland Boys Club in the league in March who Crainie says "up until that point had been unbeaten in the league."

With pre-season a non-event for Kilsyth due to an end-of-season fixture pile-up when they played four games a week, Crainie has given his squad a complete break over the summer. "We’ll start back on the first of August and try to get two to three friendlies per week before our first league game towards the end of the month," Crainie told Youth Football Scotland.

There is also a possibility of some new faces in the Kilsyth squad with the Athletic’s coach stating that "we’re in talks with a few boys with a view to signing, but we’re taking our time. As a club we feel it’s important that players feel at home and they enjoy the training, playing and the company of the other boys that they will be with for a full football season.

"We have re-signed all of our players from last season as the boys know what they are capable of following on from last season and they know what they have to do to improve on their impressive showing last season."

Looking forward to the forthcoming season outwith of Kilsyth themselves, Crainie has his sights set on the teams he feels will most likely challenge Athletic for the league, a competition that he has set as an ambitious target for the squad.

"Winning the league although difficult would be a fantastic achievement but a top three finish as a minimum is what we are after," he said. To do so, Kilsyth will have to get past last year’s league champions Wolves BC, newly promoted Craigpark, and Moorlands who impressed Crainie towards the end of the season.

Success in the league is the priority for Athletic and Crainie, with a top three finish a "minimum" for the club with winning the league an ambitious target for the club alongside what Crainie hopes will be continued success in the Cups, with a firm belief that "another cup win is not beyond us".

Good luck to Kilsyth Athletic 2002s for next season!

Calderbraes Football Club are to host a football festival as part of their pre-season which boasts an exciting mix of football and funfair attractions. The event, which takes place on Saturday the 8th of August, will see three different age groups participating with a number of local teams getting involved in the festivities.

Historically the festival used to take place every year but this has not happened for many years now. However this is the second year in a row that the club will host the event after the 2006s team decided to host the festival for their own age group last year. This year it has been expanded to include multiple age groups, with a number of clubs from the Central Region entering teams.

A massive amount of organisation has gone into the festival to ensure that the planning transfers smoothly into the running of the event. Stephen McCrory of the 2006s  team has been the most prominent figure in organising the event, although all coaches from all age groups are getting involved, either by helping with the planning or by volunteering to help run the event on the day. 

This proves to be a reflection of Calderbraes’ efforts to have a real club presence on the day through coaches and committee members, as well as players and parents.

Not only will this year see more age groups participating in the football but there will be additional attractions such as candy floss and popcorn stalls as well as inflatables, which were rained off last year. This year covers have been ordered to ensure that the inflatables can be used in any weather, and they are hopeful that the other teams participating will bring along family and friends to enjoy the use of these attractions as well as support the football on the day.

Calderbraes FC believe that these sort of events are incredibly important for the club and the local community, and see the event as being vital in getting out there and being seen to do the right things and stand for the rights principles. In this way, the club can become a staple part of the community, something that the players of all age groups are proud to be a part of while the community offer their support in return. It is also important in helping the club to fulfil their aim of expansion, particularly if it becomes the annual event for everyone to look forward to that they are hoping for.

With that said, Calderbraes are already looking ahead to next year, hoping to add even more age groups and to add even more activities and attractions for everyone to enjoy.

The club would like to thank PSL Team Sports who are sponsoring the event as well as the team. They would also like to thank all the participating teams for their support and for making the festival possible.

The Calberbraes Football Festival, which will take place at Hamilton Palace Sports Ground on Saturday the 8th of August, is sure to be a fantastic day out for all who attend. With the football kicking off at 9.00am, there will be no shortage of entertainment with the fixtures continuing through to 5.15pm, and the inflatable fun zone running throughout the day. 

Monday, 27 July 2015 11:27

Can Craigpark Colts be Invincible again?

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Craigpark Colts 2002 had a season to remember last year, going the whole year unbeaten in the league, in their first season as an 11-a-side team.

The season started with a mini seven-a-side league between the teams in the Central Scotland FA league to determine A & B leagues. This saw the Colts go into the B division, where they won 21 games and drew three.

The side scored 133 goals and conceded only 21, gaining them promotion to the A League. 

As well as reaching round two of the Regional Cup and round three of the Scottish Cup, the boys triumphed in the B League Cup, beating West Park 4-1 in the final at Ochilview Park, home of Stenhousemuir FC.

Chairman Jason Todd was delighted with last season's performance and is now hoping to build on the year.

"Having gained promotion to the A League, we are aiming for a top six finish," he said.

"We would also like to have a good run in the Scottish Cup, and hopefully have an away game with a Highland team or a team from the East, as it would be a great experience for the players."

The team will be looking to do this under the guidance of a new fitness coach who has been brought in "to develop the players as a team and individually enhance their performances."

They have also been preparing for pre-season with a football festival, that saw them miss out on the final by one goal. 

However, Todd does think this could be a tough year for the side. When asked about any signings made, he revealed that the club "have lost a few players to the pro youth set up."

"As we are a single team and not part of a club with teams at all groups we find it difficult to attract players locally from where we are in Airdrie."

But the team are still confident they can do some damage, especially over Kilsyth BC. Todd asked the boys who they would consider to be their main rivals, and the unanimous decision was Kilsyth. "They beat us last season to knock us out of the Open Cup," Todd said. 

Good luck to Craigpark Colts over the course of the 2015/16 season!

Friday, 24 July 2015 18:17

Central Girls FA take USA by storm

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As the season comes to a close, many teams would look forward to a break and the opportunity to unwind after a strenuous league campaign. This was not the case for Central Girls Football Academy, however, after they decided to take a team to the States in search of fresh footballing opposition to challenge themselves against.  

Inviting players from three different age groups to take part in the trip, Central Girls submitted a team in the under-16s category of the Mid Atlantic Cup, which took place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Central Girls FA coach Ian Dibdin reinforced the decision to take a team across the world by stating his belief in the value of tournament football. "At Central I’m a great believer in tournaments. We want our teams to go to tournaments and experience events elsewhere rather than close down during the summer," he told Youth Football Scotland.

Dibdin also saw the value of a post-season trip in maintaining team morale and widening the team’s experience.

"We want to keep playing football. It’s crucial for player retention. If you’re having a good time, then you don't want to leave. More than half of the team hadn’t been to America before. Inevitably it widens people’s horizons," he said.

Beginning the trip in Philadelphia, Central Girls also took the opportunity to meet up with old friends. Maryland Rush were the opponents for Central Girls Football Academy in the Puma Cup Final in Liverpool in 2014 and the teams have since maintained a connection. Following a friendly with the American side, Central Girls competed in the Mid Atlantic Cup before visiting Annapolis in Maryland, Washington DC and finally New York.

Playing six games throughout the whole of their American tour, the girls won two and lost four with some positive performances and results in the Mid Atlantic cup such as a 3-2 victory over New York based team Merrick Rush. Ian felt this was a chance for the girls to test themselves in a different environment.

"At the end of the day, they're the strongest country in the world as far as football goes. We knew we were going to a strong area," Dibdin said. "We were going to a ranked tournament. We went in at the highest level which is Championship level. We wanted to see what it was about.

"I wanted our players to realise that football goes beyond Scotland. We’ve got teams in the world that would easily compete with Glasgow City and Arsenal. We have to be there. We hope to eventually reach that level but until you see it, you don’t know what you're trying to achieve. That’s the reason for the tournaments."

The players are also actively encouraged to reflect on where they want to go with their football career. With university and college coaches attending tournaments such as the Mid Atlantic Cup, it is important for the players the opportunity to consider that avenue.

"It’s something that I actively encourage all of our players. We have some super players that were over there and without a doubt, they attracted the attention of the coaches. I’m not one of these coaches that is protective of their players. It’s a case of, if they want the opportunity to go to America then I will do everything I can possibly do to make that happen. If they’ve got an opportunity it’s not about the club all the time, it’s about the individuals as well," Dibdin said. 

Acknowledging that American youth football is probably home to a greater depth of technically gifted and athletic footballers because of the size of the country, Dibdin also recognised that the Scottish game can compete. He stated: "If you hide from the best then how are you meant to know? From my experience girls want to learn football, not by watching but by playing."

Central Girls FA certainly cannot be accused of hiding from strong opposition, competing against the number one, five and six ranked teams in Pennsylvania state. 

Dibdin also praised his team for the way they responded to game situations, saying:"“I would tend to think that we were more creative and that we were adjusting to games tactically better than they were.” However, he was more than aware of the strengths of the opposition, “They were very well set-up and shaped. When our attack broke down, all of the opposition players were prepared for that."

During the trip, there was also time for the girls to relax, bond and explore new surroundings. Visiting iconic areas, such as the Rocky Steps and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, they even managed to squeeze in some shopping. The girls’ coach tried his best to avoid the malls but events had their own say.

"When we traveled we lost all of our bags on the first day so that was a bit of a challenge. Eventually I had to go shopping!" Dibdin remarked.

A day in Annapolis, Maryland, meant that the team got the chance to enjoy some water sports before going on to Washington, DC, to visit the Whitehouse and then New York to experience sights such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Central Park. One of the players unfortunately dropped their phone into the Hudson River but their coach saw the bright side, "Luckily she never dropped in!"

Joking aside, the trip was important in fulfilling the vision of Central Girls Football Academy.

"During these kind of trips where you are together for just short of two weeks, you see people in a different light than you would at training and that helps with team bonding. At the club, we start at nursery school and go through to adult teams. Of course we lose some who go off to pastures new but our ethos is to give these players a life experience, as well as a footballing one," Dibdin said.

Last season’s players for the Beveridge Lions Red will have been only two years old when Arsene Wenger steered Arsenal to their famous and unprecedented undefeated season in the Premier League.

After coach Daniel Farley repeated that success at the first attempt at 11-a-side in the under-13 Fife Development League, last season can only be described as a success for the Fife club.

"It was a tremendous achievement by all the boys, and something they should all be really proud about," Farley told Youth Football Scotland.

The Lions’ only defeat of the season was in the Development Cup Final, a game they lost 2-1 to Real Fife, an experience the Beveridge coach says that "will definitely be used to spur us on throughout pre-season and the new league campaign".

With a well-deserved off season for the players over and pre-season training well under way, Beveridge Lions Red approach the next few weeks with the possibility of “two or three friendlies” in order to “help us gauge our progress and highlight any areas we need to focus on during training”.

The step up to under-14 level is something the club is acutely aware of with it being the first year the players will have faced a full year of competitive fixtures alongside an increased calibre of clubs. 

With the qualities of Blue Brazil, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, and AM Soccer gracing the U14s league, there is an opportunity for "healthy" rivalries that will allow the Lions the possibility for the Lions to face "the best players in the area", Farley said. 

Even if some defeats come the way of the Lions, Farley is determined to keep the focus on enjoyment: "Above all we want the boys to enjoy playing football. We hope they can look back on in future years and have some great memories." 

There is a general feeling of optimism within the Fife-based club with the club "fortunate to have been able to sign a couple of really good players in the off season", signings which Farley hopes will improve "strength and depth through all positions" and build on the success of the squad he has retained from last season, most of whom have stayed on with the Lions.

The mentality of the players was also praised by the coach. "We never took winning for granted. We just kept our heads down, working hard to ensure all the squad were pulling together as a team at all times…each and every one of the players…carried out their own roles excellently," Farley said.

The possibility of another Invincible season awaits the Lions and while Farley claims that "seasons like the last on don’t come along that often", the benefits of a squad well versed in winning may well lead the Lions to doing something that even Arsenal could not manage by finishing two consecutive seasons unbeaten in the league.