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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.

Dumbarton Riverside FC recently named their 2003 Barca side as the 2014/15 team of the year at their recent Presentation Night. The team were awarded the honour by Riverside committee members after much deliberation and in recognition of their “enthusiasm, hard work put in by the players and coaches for a team which is just one year in the making”. Recently appointed Head Coach and parent Leighanne Sanderson added “They are a great bunch of boys and I’m proud of every single one of them, I feel every one of them deserves a mention, as they have worked so hard, having to deal with big changes of new coaches.”

It could all have been so much different as the original 2003 side were split up at the beginning of last season and the coaching staff went with them to form a new side. This left the parents of the remaining boys with a dilemma that Leighanne and three other parents decided to face head on and try their hand at coaching.

"Me getting into Dumbarton Riverside was totally unexpected and by accident, being a footy mum for the last four years, I was always at training sessions and at every game, so when I moved from Renfrew to Dumbarton last year, I managed to get my son Kieran into Riverside," she told Youth Football Scotland.

"Within a few months the original coaches were taking more than half the team away into a different league, so myself and three other parents came forward to help coach the remaining nine boys, otherwise the boys would have had no team at all.

"With no experience we all worked really hard for the boys to get them where they are now.

With confidence knocked last summer, the team is now thriving ahead of stepping up to 11-a-side football.

"We now have 21 players and getting ready to go into 11-a-side next season. I think the hardest thing we’ve had to achieve since taking over was probably boosting the boy’s confidence, getting them to realise that they were just as good as any other player I think that's why we stood out this season because of every single person’s hard work and determination to keep the team running for the sake of the boys," Leighanne said.

As most people involved with grass roots sport in Scotland know, it’s not always easy funding the ongoing running costs and parents sometimes have to sacrifice precious time as well as cash, Leighanne said “In February, Riverside were awarded charitable status which is a great achievement for the club, again due to hard work and commitment. We also have charity events to raise funds for the boys, were they recently had their presentation and the boys will be taking part in Trail Troopers in September, which they have taken part in for a few years.

"As well as that I’m arranging an adults race night later in the year for the parents to get to know each other and let their hair down! “The parents have been great and are delighted with the efforts of the boys and new coaches last season, we have had nothing but great feedback from every parent which makes us very proud and feel that we must have been doing something right."

As the new season approaches, the players and coaches of Dumbarton Riverside teams are preparing to get back into training in a couple of weeks’ time and the Barca 2003 side are facing the challenge of stepping up to 11-a-side football for the first time, anyone willing and able to help this great local club with volunteering or sponsorship are able to contact the team through their website at www.dumbartonriverside.leaguerepublic.com.

Friday, 10 July 2015 14:00

Dunblane Soccer Club United claim FVFDA title

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Dunblane Soccer Club United topped the FVFDA U14 standings this season after an impressive campaign which also included two cup semi-final appearances. They finished the season four points clear of their nearest challengers Strathendrick FC to claim a well-earned league trophy after a hotly contested title race.

Club coach Jochen Clasen spoke to Youth Football Scotland to discuss his side’s title-winning season as well as their plans for the upcoming campaign.

When asked about the team’s performance over the course of the season, he said: “The team performed very well in a league of 15 teams. It was a very competitive and tight U14 league this year.  Until about four weeks before the end of season five teams still had a very realistic chance of winning the league. The team also made it to two cup semi-finals, both of which were narrowly lost, so it was even better to win the league this year."

It was a very competitive title race, and the closing weeks of the season were integral to Dunblane's success.

"The most decisive game was the very last one. We needed a draw away from home against the second placed team, which had won the league in the previous year. The boys played very well and worked hard to win that game 2:1, despite being a goal down within 20 seconds from kick-off. The games played in the previous four weeks against strong teams were also crucial. We had a squad of 16 players and all of made valuable contributions during a long and very successful season," Clasen said.

Despite their title success, the coach identified three particularly important lessons his side have learned over the course of the season.

"One important lesson was to pick ourselves up after games which are less successful. We lost only two league games, but also two cup semi-finals. It was pleasing to see that after each of those defeats the performance in subsequent games improved considerably," he said.

"We also learned that in many crucial games what matters most is working hard for the team. Unfortunately, towards the end of the season, this sometimes seemed to be at the expense of playing attractive, quick passing football. Next season we aim to develop and sustain a positive, attractive playing style throughout the season, while still being competitive.

"A third aspect is the need for all players, and coaches, to remain positive and supportive with each other at all times. We very much encourage players to make their own decisions. Mistakes are inevitable. The point is to learn from them."

Even after a resoundingly successful season, Clasen clearly sees ways in which his side can improve in order to surpass this season’s accomplishments.

When asked about the team’s ambitions for the future, he said: "We have three main objectives for the next season. First, we aim to instil even more mutual respect, support, as well as self-responsibility within the team. Second, we aim to develop and nurture a certain style of play, which is based on quick passing positive football. Third, we will put a strong emphasis on player development, which is not merely about improving skills and tactical awareness but also about individual decision making."

Congratulations Dunblane Soccer Club United under-14s, 2014-15 FVFDA League champions!

Jimmy Bone has worked within the Scottish Football Association for around 30 years and currently holds the role of Player and Coach Development Manager within the Central Region. Bone also assesses coaches undertaking their A-license and B-license and has previously assessed Scotland manager Gordon Strachan.

Bone played for Partick Thistle, Norwich City, Sheffield United, Celtic, Arbroath, St. Mirren and Hearts and made two international appearances for Scotland. Having played or coached in every continent except Australasia, he has a depth of football knowledge and experience.

Recently, the Carolina Railhawks U15 boys team travelled from America to the United Kingdom. They are currently coached by the former Rangers, Kilmarnock and Dunfermline player Greg Shields. 

During their time in the United Kingdom the Railhawks played in London, Manchester, Liverpool and played against both Celtic and Rangers as well as Alloa. Upon arrival in the Central Region, the team were coached by Bone in back-to-back sessions due to his connection with Shields. During his time at Dunfermline, Shields was coached by Bone and more recently Bone has mentored Shields through his coaching qualifications. 

Speaking of his experience with the Railhawks U15 side, Bone noted how far American soccer has come over the years since, saying: "There’s so many kids now playing in America and their clubs are so structured, the interest of soccer in America is growing at a really fast rate." 

Bone thoroughly enjoyed his experience coaching the Railhawks at the University of Stirling and noted the enthusiasm the talented group of young players showed.

"They were a really great group of kids, they were very well drilled and a joy to coach," Bone said.

Closer to home, Bone spoke of his desire for more people aged between 16 and 25 to involve themselves with coaching.

"The opportunities are out there for people, by volunteering within a club for 10 hours you can gain a valuable qualification in coaching," Bone said.

Moving forward, Bone hopes that the Railhawks enjoy a successful season under Shields and welcomes their return to Scotland.

The Barrhead YFC Festival looks set to be the biggest yet, and preparations are well underway for another excellent weekend of football from August 7-9. 

This year, the festival will include over 140 teams, spanning from under-seven to under-19 level. 

"We have followed on from an old tournament held in Barrhead for the last 40 years, with the reinvented tournament over the last 5 years becoming better and better. We have tried to bring a football festival to the local community in a way that engages them in sport in a fun environment," event organiser Archie Douglas told Youth Football Scotland.

"By holding this yearly festival we hope to put Barrhead on the sporting map and give the community a football festival to be proud of and help teach young footballers about discipline, tolerance and interaction with others."

After a few minor blips, the festival is beginning to shape up well with just six weeks to go until the main event. 

"It has been pretty hectic, we have had a lot of uncertainty with regards to pitches being made available, car parking and changing facilities as well, all due to the new Barrhead High School scheduled to be built adjacent to our astro and grass pitches," Douglas said.

"However, it all appears to be coming together now. Ice cream vans, medical services, food stalls and shows have all been booked."

As for the future, Douglas hopes the Barrhead Festival will continue to grow, with a girls, amateur and veteran section in the pipeline.

Applications are still open for this year. For more information go to byfc.weebly.com.

Watch the video from the 2012 Barrhead Festival below: