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Friday, 26 December 2014 11:26

Hazlehead Performance School a work in progress

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When Mark Wotte was appointed as Scotland’s first ever Performance Director in June 2011, he made it clear that the key to restoring the national team was to invest in the future. 
He said: “Qualifying for major championships again is the main priority but we can no longer leave it to chance: Scottish football must work collectively and strategically to ensure we cultivate the most talented players at all age groups. This country is renowned across the world for its unparalleled pride and passion: now we must add performance to those qualities once again.”
Three and a half years later and Wotte has already left his position with the Scottish FA. Despite that, the work he implemented during his three years in charge is still ongoing; most notably: the seven performance schools across the country.
Stuart Glennie is two years into his job as Hazlehead Academy’s Performance School Elite Youth Coach. “No one is claiming that we are doing everything right because it is a work in progress. We are giving players an opportunity and coaching contact every single weekday. The ultimate gain is to obviously improve the state of the national team, but we also want to develop young players and people.”
Before taking on the job as Elite Coach, Glennie spent five years as a community coach with Aberdeen and then two and a half years as manager of Highland League side Deveronvale. 
The School Performance scheme allows the best young, Scottish players to train with each other Monday to Friday. The Hazlehead performance school currently has 37 players; 32 signed with Aberdeen, two with Aberdeen ladies and five from local youth clubs like Banks O’Dee Albion and Lewis United. 
The daily coaching consists of four main components; technical, tactical, physical and mental skills. An important factor for the performance schools is to identify the best players from the area.
Glennie said: “We have scouts across the region who are attending games on a weekly basis and compiling reports on players. We are looking for players with a good first touch and awareness but not just that; we are also looking for players who may not have that right now but have the potential to kick on. 
“Players have the chance to not only be coached everyday, but to also train with the very best players from their region. They also get the chance to compete against the best players as we have matches against the other performance schools three times a year.”
There is little doubt that the opportunity for the players selected for these performance schools is a great one, but it doesn’t come without it’s sacrifices.
Glennie explained: “It is a huge, huge commitment for all the players involved.
“The majority of them need to change schools and leave their friends behind, while some of them need to travel 50/60 miles to get to the school. A couple of players from the Hazlehead Performance School are from Fraserburgh and are having to get up at five in the morning.
“The performance school isn’t for everyone and not everyone can cope with it. Prior to offering places to players, we interview both them and their parents.”
The Hazlehead Performance School is now in it’s third year and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, but despite this, Stuart Glennie believes patience is still needed.
“The academy has been great because it offers a clear pathway for our younger players up the ladder towards representing Scotland. Not only that, but it is allowing our best young players the chance to get feedback on their game and progress on a weekly, if not daily basis.
“We won’t know the real success of the scheme until we are a few more years down the line and we can see where the players from the performance schools are, and if the national team has benefitted from them.”
The future looks bright for Scotland and within the game there is a real feeling that the performance schools will benefit the national team in the long run. 
Anna Signeul is the Scotland Women’s National Team Coach and she said: “What a great opportunity for our best boys and girls to play and train together. I can see a future when all our international players come through the Performance School programme.”
After the vital home win against Ireland, Scotland's passage to the 2016 Euros in France remains a distinct possibility. It would mean the first qualification for a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup, also held in France. Some will interpret this as being part of an intrinsic fate.
The recent upturn in form has much to do with a blend of bravery and ability not often seen in recent years. None have typified the new-found belief better than young full-back Andy Robertson. The Hull summer signing's recent rise has been a well-documented and meteoric one, and following only five appearances for the national side he's already been tipped for a lengthy international career.
Given second billing in the media has been the story of his release from Celtic as a boy. Robertson was released from their youth system having been deemed too small, and has since discussed the long-term benefits of the initial setback. This is of course not the standalone occasion of such a story, with the career of young footballers not always as stress-free as many are led to believe.
A glaring example of this being the exit trials. The exit trials are effectively a gathering of young players who have recently parted ways with clubs, and as free agents are subsequently looking to impress scouts from different teams.
To some it appears an extremely harsh concept; teenagers being forced to play for their professional careers. To an extent this is true, the pressure put upon these young players is immense. One issue the players face during the matches is an impulse to over-complicate in a bid to impress. Former Scotland forward Billy Dodds is one coach who's witnessed the trials, and has explained that players must try not to do this, "If you're a sitting midfielder, don't start bombing forward, just play your game." 
This year was the sixth iteration of the annual event, which takes place at the Toryglen Football Centre. There have been plenty of success stories, one of these being that of St. Mirren winger Lewis Morgan. I talked to him regarding his having left Rangers and the process following this. He said "I was told at Under 17’s level that I’d be getting a full-time contract at Rangers, but after the Christmas break, some of the younger boys got playing ahead of me." Lewis then continued, "At the end of the season I went in for a meeting with Jim Sinclair, (Head of Youth) ready to sign a two-year deal, but he talked me out of signing." 
Having left Rangers, the 18 year-old attended the exit trials, "Loads of boys from my age group were at the trials and after we'd played in the four games, my dad spoke to Jim Mullin, the head scout at St Mirren, and they said they were interested in me coming up for pre-season."
Following additional interest from Motherwell, Celtic and Partick Thistle, he decided to make the move to St. Mirren; "Rather than go to Celtic, me and my dad decided it would be best to go to a smaller club, and with St. Mirren being the closest, that made it easier." 
The 2014/15 campaign has began well for the youngster who made appearances against Celtic and Partick Thistle for the first-team.  "I’d played in pre-season against Albion Rovers for half an hour, but the competitive debut came against Celtic, and that made it a bit more special."
He was told that he could force his way into the first-team this season, but admitted that the call "came quite soon" and he will be hoping to continue making appearances in the side over the season.
It may be expected that for everyone signed on the basis of the trials such as Lewis, someone is left disappointed. However, the success rate is extremely high. From those who attend, over 85% find a club, be that in the Premiership or further down the structure, with a few ending up at junior sides.
For the coaches coming to inspect the talent, they consider it to be a huge opportunity for the players, with Paul Hartley stating: "They've (players) got to look at it in a positive manner and see they've got a second chance again."  
The trials may not always be given that much attention, but they are a pivotal aspect of football in Scotland. They allow both teams a chance to pick up a new signing, but more importantly, it affords the youngsters, some of whom have no concrete career alternatives in place, an opportunity to display their talent and stay in the game.
Pupils from Kirkcaldy High School were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend the 'Ultimate Player Experience' with Trans World Soccer.  Here is an outline of the highlights from the trip: 
Day 1
The group were on their way to St James Park as Newcastle United hosted Liverpool.  Lewis McLean said that it was a 'great atmosphere' at the game and it was 'the biggest stadium I've been to by far - it couldn't have got much better!'
A 5-a-side tournament was next for the group.  It was a great activity to round off the day as Mr I'anson said that: 'they all seem to be enjoying it and getting involved, having a bit of fun and having a laugh!'
Day 2
Day 2 and Kirkcaldy were heading off to the 'Theatre of Dreams' to attend an Old Trafford stadium tour.  It is the largest UK premiership stadium, with just under 76,000 seats.  The fun didn't stop there as the team bus set off towards Villa Park so they could take in  Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur.  Ryan McGowan stated that he was: 'looking forward to the game'  because 'both teams are doing OK so I hope it's a good game!'
The Kirkcaldy HS squad for the experience was as follows:
Ross Higgins, Ryan McGowan, Owen Robertson, Aaron Cowie, Kieran Grieve, Robbie Pitcaithly, Aidan Tait, Niall Cherrett, Thomas Summers, Ben McDonald, Robert Scott, Euan Sandilands, Ryan Chrystal, Daniel Shand, Robbie McEwan, Rhys Davies, Ewan Hunter, Lewis McLean, Scott McClung, Callum Nicol, Nairn Connelly, Cameron Davies, Kieran Mercer, Ryan Bell, Elliot Hadden, Robbie Henderson, Luke Matthew, Owen Henderson, Ben Menzies, Jordan Donaldson, Aiden Matthew, Mr Gibson, Jack Nicol, Mr Davidson, Mr I'anson, Mr Hamilton
Here is a highlights video from the day:
If you would like to find out more about Trans World Soccer's fantastic range of experiences please click here
Forfar Academy sent a lucky group of pupils and staff to attend one of Trans World Soccer's fantastic 'Ultimate Player Experiences'  Here is an outline of the highlights of the experience:
Day 1:
The first day started off with a training session taken by professional coaches at Newcastle United FC. Challenge matches vs local opposition followed with the Forfar guys: 'Showing the teams north of the border what they are made of' according to My Taylor! 
Forfar then took part in a pre-match press conference before taking in the Sunderland vs Stoke game at the Stadium of Light.  Mr Taylor said that ‘the kids are having a great time – and so are the staff!’
See below for a highlights video from the experience:
Day 2:
The guys were first treated to a stadium tour of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium as Forfar were given unrestricted access to all areas of the great arena!  
The activities didn’t stop there however, as the small matter of Manchester United vs Everton at Old Trafford was still to come, with many of the guys excited about seeing some of their heroes in action!
The Forfar Academy squad for the experience was as follows: Owen Woodcock, Lennon Sturrock, Ben Ranstead, Josh Lumgair, Liam Deas, Ryan Clark, Liam Jones, Andrew Short, Ben Davie, Calum Kelman, Craig Davidson, Ruaridh Beaton, Guthrie Smith, Blaine Hampton, Tyler Burton, Kurtis Turek, Blair Butchart, Robbie Davidson, Robbie McLauchlan, Kai Livingston, Daniel Harrison, Jamie Fordyce, Jack Neave, Liam Devine, Ethan Hampton, Tyler Godfrey, Jack Steven, Fraser Macintosh, Drew Morrison, Sean Tait, Cameron Fleming, Andrew Stirling, Kyle Millar, Max Milne, Lewis Yule, Jay Doherty, Jamie Gill, Ryan Stirton, Connor Patel, Jason King, Mr Harrison, Mr Taylor, Mr Marshall, Mr Young.
If you are interested in signing up for an experience, please click here.
Glenrothes Athletic were, last night, the latest team to receive new strips through the Trans World Soccer 'Strips 4 Trips' campaign.
Trans World Soccer is a sports tour operator that gives football fans the opportunity to experience life as a superstar player.
Players and coaches from the 2005 team met TWS representative, Michael, and were presented with their brand new strips.
Coach Grant said "This is fantastic for the club to receive these strips as we didn't have a set of our own at this age group. The kids are delighted and can't wait to pull these on for Saturday's game."
The TWS experiences take many forms, and range from 1 or 2-day experiences for UK schools and youth clubs, to 7-day experiences for groups from all over the world.
Each package is completely bespoke; ensuring every football fanatic that travels with TWS goes home with memories that are guaranteed to last a lifetime.
If your school or club is interested in receiving brand new kit, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.
Stewarton Annick 2005 will be attending the ESF Disneyland Paris tournament in April 2015.  The event attracts teams from across Europe, with the majority coming from the great footballing nations of Germany, Spain and France, and this opportunity is not lost on the young players.  Midfielder Jordan Foy believes the event will be a ‘great chance to test myself against different teams from different countries,’ but also eyes the bigger goal of ‘getting scouted by PSG’ during his time in Paris! Defender Bryce Cherry is looking forward to some new competition, expressing that the tournament will be a chance ‘to test myself against new teams I haven’t played before.’
Stewarton Annick have been operating as a football club since 1975, after forging links with the Youth and Community Association. Today the club has players of all ages participating in leagues across central, west and north Ayrshire. I spoke with Cameron Carmichael, head coach of Stewarton Annick 2005s to find out more about the team and their upcoming tournament at Disneyland Paris with ESF Events. 
Having played for Stewarton Annick himself, and helping his father with coaching duties at the club, Cameron went on to gain experience coaching regional development squads in the SYFA west region, before returning to the club saying "My son plays at this age group so I was always going to be at training and games anyway so it made sense to get involved."
Cameron has been able to continue his developmental focus with the team saying "I am very much into the development side of coaching especially in the young lads, and have always enjoyed the more technical coaching giving the boys and girls the basic individual skills which produce confidence to play the small sided games 1v1 and 2v1 situations."
It is perhaps this mentality which leads to a focus on individual progress at training. "We like to gauge our success not on the results of our matches, instead we look at the individual progress weekly and monthly of the players in order to help prepare the players more for the progression into the 11 aside format. The players also enjoy seeing themselves progress with this training style, with Bailey Stebbings professing that the best thing about the club is: ‘learning new moves and skills every week.’
With the help of Assistant Coach Michael Cherry and Club Secretary Andy Warner, this individual focus has contributed to wider success, particularly at the ESF Ayr International tournament earlier this year which saw the team unbeaten over all 9 matches, and only conceded four goals. The team are now hoping to replicate this performance when they attend another of the ESF events, this time at Disneyland Paris. With the squad having grown since the Ayr event, two teams of seven will be travelling to the tournament, which runs from the 8th to the 12th  of April next year.
The tournament format will see teams facing off in group and knockout stages, with the highest placed teams battling it out for the trophy, with those not qualifying playing for the shield. ‘The tournament also operates a player of the tournament and fair play award, so there is a lot up for grabs’ said Cameron.
Why Disneyland? ‘Why not?’ laughs Cameron, ‘Who doesn’t love Disneyland.’ But in all seriousness he notes the location will be a great opportunity for the players: ‘Some of our boys will never get the chance to visit Disneyland and to be able to stay there and take part in a tournament will be an amazing life experience for the kids.’  The team will be staying at the Davy Crockett ranch, where there are great facilities for both the players and the parents and Cameron reveals that the team are also ‘hoping to make full use of our access to the Disneyland parks, as well as a arranging a team dinner with the Disney characters if possible.’ To round the week off the team will take part in a presentation event, which will potentially be a highlight of the week with Cameron stating that the presentation event at the previous Ayr Tournament was ‘the best,’ he has ‘experienced either as a player or a coach.’
In order to fund the trip to Disneyland the team have been hard at work with fundraising events, and Cameron predicts ‘that all the players will travel on the trip having only had to pay the £50 deposit,’ showing great determination from the club to ensure the team can all participate in the tournament, as well as the accessibility of the
ESF event.
All in all, the ESF Disneyland trip will be a great experience for the club. ‘The tournament has already given the team so much, we are a lot more together in terms of communication between coaches and parents as well as the parents getting to know all the players better. It has also given the boys a purpose to work hard at training and in the games.’ Cameron also speaks highly of ESF, saying that ‘the organisation and communication is fantastic,’ and it is clear that the tournaments are a great opportunity for young players to develop, with Callum Sibbald saying that he ‘played the best,’ he had ‘ever played’ at the Ayr event.
In terms of their chances in the tournaments, Cameron believes that ‘if the boys play to their maximum there is no reason why they can’t go all the way,’ and with their experience of an unbeaten run at the previous tournament then he is ‘sure they will give it their very best this time around.’ The players are equally optimistic. Adam Cassels (who will be attending his first ESF tournament) is hoping to emulate his favourite player Marco Reus by ‘scoring lots of goals,’ and fellow midfielder Jamie Wilson is targeting ‘winning another trophy.’
As well as looking to achieve success at the Disneyland Tournament, Cameron mentions other ways in which the club is continually developing: ‘We are looking to put into place a new development officer who will oversee the development of the younger players and new coaches.’ The club has also recently ‘received funding from the Weir Charitable Foundation and Cashback for Communities,’ and the new funding will ‘be used for equipment for the team which will make a  huge difference for the boys in their development over the coming years.’ These developments are part of the reason Cameron enjoys his role within Stewarton Annick: ‘The club is very forward thinking and always looking to progress and give all the kids the best football experience they can. It’s a fun place to enjoy my coaching.’ 
How would you like to have the chance of winning some free kit for your team this season? Host Your Kit is brought to you by leading cloud company iomart which hosts the IT for businesses and organisations across the UK in its data centres.  
There's no catch, nothing to collect our cut out. All you need to do is enter here and tell Host Your Kit why your team deserves the new kit, easy as that!
Glasgow East BC 1999 were one of the lucky teams last season to be presented with a brand new set of adidas strips, free of charge. Their support of the Kenyan schools project  was the main reason for their selection by Host Your Kit as worthy winners.  
Glasgow East BC 1999 are just a newly formed club, having been established in 2013. Club development officer, Patrick Twigg was happy that the good work they had done as a club had been given recognition by iomart and said "winning the kits has helped massively with costs as we can now use money to put towards other expenses." 
Patrick stated that his team are "over the moon" with the kits.  He believes if you look like a team, it helps you feel like a team, which has contributed to them achieving promotion to the Paisley Johnstone and District Youth Football League 2nd division in just their second season as a team.  
For more info about Host Your Kit, click here. 
Would you like to appear in the Trans World Soccer Clip of the Day?
Youth Football Scotland will be posting a clip every single day from the Scottish youth football community.  Send us in your clips to be published live on the YFS Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.  The format is as follows:
Majestic Monday:  A fantastic piece of play
Two for Tuesday:  Two great pieces of play, viewers will be asked to decide on the best one.
What happened next Wednesday: Viewers will be asked to guess what happens next in a particular piece of play.
Throwback Thursday:  A clip from the past.
Freestyle Friday:  Fantastic pieces of individual skill
Saturday clip of the day:  A noteworthy piece of play from the day's youth football card
Sunday clip of the day:  A noteworthy piece of play from the day's youth football card
You can send us your clips on facebook and instagram or email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." title="">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Here is an example of a submitted clip: 

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Youth Football Scotland were at Deans Community High School last week as the school's senior team were presented with their brand new strips as part of the Trans World Soccer 'Strips for Trips' campaign.
Deans Community HS have organised a TWS trip with some of their S1/2 pupils. As part of the 'Strips for Trips' campaign, the Deans Community HS senior team were presented with a free set of strips, to the delight of the young players.
PE Teacher Joe Robertson said that: 'Our S5/6 pupils have actually been borrowing strips from another team, so they're delighted to have their own set now. To get these strips for free on top of the trip is fantastic for us'.
Trans World Soccer give school groups and youth football clubs the opportunity to experience life as a superstar player. TWS launched the 'Strips for Trips' campaign in June 2014 as an incentive for schools and clubs accross the country to sign up for a 2-day experience with TWS this season. 
So what's involved in a typical TWS trip? 
- Young people will see their heroes live
- Train with elite coaches
- Tour the stadiums
- Play challenge matches against local young players
- Travel on a luxury team bus and have the media spotlight follow them from start to finish.
When asked about the upcoming trip, Joe said: 'It'll be a great atmosphere, a great weekend and I think they'll get quite a lot from it'.
For more info about TWS and their fantastic trips for youth clubs, click here
UK International Soccer (UKIS) are one of the largest providers of professional soccer coaching in The USA and are recruiting staff for 2015 now! 
Established in 1990 UKIS have built a strong reputation for delivering year round high class soccer programmes, coach education and summer camps. In partnership with the American Youth Soccer  Organisation, the English FA, the LFE, various MLS Teams, I-Soccer and more UKIS have expanded impressively across the USA and now employ 400 - 450 Coaches every year. The UKIS mission is to Provide The Best Possible Soccer Experience for everyone involved in their programmes. This includes the players, the parents and our very own professional coaching staff. 
UKIS Coaching staff vary from SFA Level 1 through to UEFA A licensed and work on recreational, advanced or elite projects depending on their qualifications and experience. Male and Female Coaches, Goalkeeping Coaches, Coaches with specialist areas - for example working with U5s - all make up the fabric of our coaching team.
The bulk of this staff are recruited from The UK and Eire but are joined by colleagues hired from across the globe. In this past 2014 season Swedes, Norwegians, Spaniards, Italians, Americans, South Africans and Coaches of many other nationalities have been employed by UK International Soccer giving a rich international flavour to our coaching programmes. This broad range of Coaching staff bring a fantastic mixture of ideas and footballing philosophies to the organisation and allow our employees to work within an exciting soccer environment flavoured by coaching styles from across the globe. Working in this environment and being trained in the UK International Soccer's own INSPIRE curriculum means UKIS staff are constantly learning and developing as a soccer Coach.
Furthermore the existence of in-house coaching diplomas means continued professional development opportunities exist to our staff who are in The USA for longer periods of time. All in all the Coaches get as much from their experience working for UKIS as the players who attend our programmes and camps get from being trained by them.
Competitive wages, accommodation and transport in The States are all provided with different lengths of contract available to apply for and applications are now being invited for the 2015 season. Throughout October and November interviews are taking place in Scotland with a Practical Coaching Assessment being held in Glasgow after the first stage of interviews are complete. Contracts start in March and April finishing in October and November. Later start dates of June and July are also available if a coach wishes to work a summer and a fall contract. There are even some short term Fall Only and Summer Only contracts available 
but these are very limited and highly competitive.
Throughout the spring months of March, April and May a variety of projects are delivered across The USA.  Play programmes and Spring Academies provide Coaches with an opportunity to design a 10-13 week programme aimed at increasing the technical abilities and team understanding of their own academy group 
as a Coach stays in one location developing their own specific project. June through to August is the summer soccer camp season during which time our coaching staff have the opportunity to travel America delivering week long soccer camps in different communities. These week long camps roll into town providing a festival of soccer for local players and the opportunity to learn from our professional coaching staff in an intense but enjoyable week.
Our Fall season kicks off from mid-August and runs through to October/November with Technical Training Programmes being delivered nationwide. Technical Training Programmes involve working with teams preparing them from their matches and competitions at the weekend. There can be jamboree style work with the U5 and U6 players while at the other end of the age range our Coaches provide mentoring and support for adult volunteer coaches. Many of the teams UKIS work with have an adult volunteer, usually a Mum or a Dad, who Coaches the team.
Our professional staff provide mentoring, support and guidance to these volunteer coaches passing on our knowledge of the game, the best training methods and how to get the best results out of training and matches for their players. Delivering of coaching clinics, shadowing adult volunteer coaches and providing them with resources and ideas can all be part of the responsibilities of the TTPs.
UKIS provide football coaches with an unbeatable experience. The opportunity to live, work in another country and soak up a whole new cultural experience all while working in the industry they love! The number of hours worked on a daily basis, the different coaches worked with and the opportunities to develop further as a Coach will only open more doors and improve coaching knowledge and experience.
Anyone looking to forge a career in football coaching will benefit greatly from this experience. If this is an opportunity you are interested in please click here
You can also check out our website for more information.  Why not also have a look at our Youtube channel 
You can apply for a position at our website or by clicking here 
For more information or for any questions please contact our Recruitment Team @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Scottish Interviews are taking place now so don’t miss out!