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Thursday, 29 October 2015 10:27

Letham FC make full use of 3G pitch

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In the October school holidays, Letham Football Club ran a competition allowing kids that played football on their fantastic 3G pitch to film their goals and win prizes from it. The competition was run for the two weeks that the schools were on holiday, and dozens of entries were made to the 'Seven Acres Perth' facebook page, and achieved over 650 likes across them all. I spoke to Letham Club Secretary, Jon Kidd about this competition.
"The idea came about during the summer holidays, when a lot of the kids were taking videos of themselves on their phones playing football. So, we thought this would be a nice way of capturing their attention during the holidays by keeping them occupied, and offering a prize. The prize is that the winner received £50 in vouchers for the retailer of their choice". Click here to view the winning goal of the competition, scored by Kyle Green.
Letham Community Sports Centre have been encouraging kids to come and play football on the pitch by charging extraordinary low prices to allow them to use the facility. "We encourage the kids in the community to come and use this facility as much as possible, as it keeps them off the streets or games consoles and engaged in exercise. We charge £1 to play for 3 hours, and £2 for 6 hours, and so on. The principle behind it is that as a community club, it is important for our facilities to be an asset to the wider community. We do have a price structure in place for people who wish to reserve and use the pitch but we recognised that young kids are unlikely to book in this way".
Other than keeping the kids off the streets, Jon feels there are many other positives: "The facility offers us an ideal opportunity to encourage physical activity, provide a safe space for kids to play and by charging a nominal fee we can also help to teach kids the value of money. Throughout the school holidays we open all day for the kids to play in a safe staffed space under CCTV and on a top class surface". Whilst on the topic of CCTV, check out this goal caught by the CCTV as the groundsmen at '7 Acres Sports Centre' were locking up for the night.
It's not just the kids that feel the benefits of meeting new friends and exercising said Jon. "This is of massive benefit to parents in providing holiday time activities, to community wardens and the local community in reducing anti-social behaviour. As a result we have children coming here from all over Perth and surrounding areas. We have no plans to stop offering this at any point in the foreseeable future".
Saturday, 17 October 2015 12:04

The future's bright with Fife Academy

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Following the successful launch of the Forth Valley Academy last year, Fife is now home to another such project; the Fife Elite Football Academy.

Led by Stephen Wright, FEFA is an amalgamation of youth academies from Dunfermline, Raith Rovers, East Fife and Cowdenbeath. Working alongside Stephen is Bill Hendry, former head of youth development at Hibernian where he was influential in developing the likes of future Scotland internationals Scott Brown, Steven Fletcher and Steven Whittaker. With a wealth of experience in coaching young footballers at their disposal, FEFA now hopes to recruit, educate and develop the next generation of talent in the Fife area.

Now in in its second season, FEFA has sides ranging from Under 11’s all the way to Under 17’s, and compete in the Elite Games Programme run by Club Academy Scotland against other academies from the likes of Celtic, Rangers, Dundee United, Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts. As well as other SPFL academies from across Scotland.

With a healthy amount of last year’s graduates being rewarded with professional contracts by one of the four senior clubs in Fife, Stephen is now hoping to work alongside the region's youth football clubs to help retain the area’s best players: 'Rather than having players and parents travelling all over Scotland, hopefully with us on their doorstep we can get these players into the Fife clubs first teams, and then hopefully maybe beyond that in years to come’.

As well as helping with player development, FEFA also offer to help to local coaches by visiting clubs and inviting others to attend open training sessions: ‘People can come in and have trials, we also go out and meet the boys clubs and have coaches and players come into our training as well to try and help them along the way…we try to put a good service on for everyone in Fife’.

Despite the fantastic work already being done, Stephen is also looking towards the long term benefits of youth development for the region: ‘People have to recognise this is a long term view to youth development, we tell people not to look at the short term developments on the pitch. We are trying to develop football players and that can take years, you have to be patient and keep working away and hopefully this will benefit everyone in Fife’.

Although still in its infancy, the combined strength of four professional clubs certainly has the potential to benefit the region for years to come. And with the next generation of Scotland’s star footballers currently learning the ropes in parks and pitches all over the country, it is good to know that with the help of Stephen, Bill and the rest of the FEFA staff, Fife is not going to be left behind in the race to discover them.  

Displaying Screenshot_2015-10-07-06-40-53-1.pngCarnoustie Panmure is a club that has continued to grow and grow. With the construction of two new pitches at Panbride Park now in the pipeline, the club will soon have the foundations to really kick on and achieve great things.
“Our club has grown over the last few years and we're running out of space for the teams we have,” club president Phil Hope told YFS. “We want to keep growing, so these new pitches are vital for our Community Club.”
“The developers, Angus Estates & Muir Homes, have been very supportive of our plans. They've helped plot the pitches and car parking to help us plan. Without them we wouldn't be able to grow the game.” 
With concerns over space and the quality of surfaces now solved, Carnoustie Panmure are free to develop into something even better. “We will hopefully have a bigger and better community club that caters for all ages, a club that has ownership of all of its facilities and a club that is financially stable,” continues Hope. “We want to increase the numbers of players and teams and have better facilities.”
Of course, the club could not have reached this point without vital support from outside, something Hope is keen to acknowledge. “The club is supported by Kevin Lee, from the Scottish FA Club Development team, and our local councilor, Helen Oswald. Both have been very helpful in advising and providing us with practical assistance as they recognise what we can achieve for our community.”
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No doubt everyone involved with the club is extremely grateful for what has been achieved. Once construction of the new pitches is complete, Carnoustie will have gained not merely an extra facility, but a top quality one too. 
The club's new pitches will provide plenty of entertainment for young people as well as the opportunity for aspiring players to hone and improve their skills. Who knows, there could well be some Scotland internationalists of the future who will learn their trade on these new pitches.
Thursday, 01 October 2015 12:04

Tight at the top for Fife FDL U14’s

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With the new season only four games old, predictions on this season’s winners and losers at this stage are clearly premature.
There’s no doubt that the usual suspects will still be there or thereabouts, and before a ball had been kicked there will have surely have been quiet murmurings among certain fans that for their team a healthy haul of silverware come May was nothing more than a formality. 
But with the thrill of the cup competitions still to look forward to, fans of the Fife Football Development League Under 14’s Division One are buckling in for what is already shaping up to be an enthralling league season, with four of the regions stalwart sides currently doing battle at the summit.
Blue Brazil, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts Yellows and Lochgelly Albert Colts have all enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season, and are tied for top spot on ten points from their first four games. Real Fife are also in the mix, with a narrow defeat to Benarty Astros FC the only blotch on their record so far.
The next few weeks look set to be pivotal even at this early stage, with all four teams lining up against each other over a relatively small space of time.
In their next two matches Real Fife will host Inverkeithing before travelling to Lochgelly, with the latter two sides meeting themselves at the start of November. Sandwiched in the middle of a trip to Real Fife and the visit of Lochgelly, Inverkeithing also have the not so small task of welcoming Cowdenbeath giants Blue Brazil to Ballast Bank at the end of October.  
Currently sitting in second place, maximum points from their next three games would see the Swifts perched at the top of the league, but coach Raymond King is not getting carried away.
"Football’s football and anything can happen on the day", he said. "I have the utmost belief in the boys and we will just keep going one match at a time and see where we end up".
The first of those tests will come on Sunday as Inverkeithing travel to McDuff Park to take on fourth placed Real Fife, and with plenty more big matches to come along the way Division One is certainly shaping up to be one to watch this season.
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 17:32

Tight at the top of G Taylor U15 League

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While the nation is captivated at the prospect of the first meaningful Scottish Premiership Title race for a number of years, an equally enthralling story is developing in the East Region’s U15 G Taylor League where five different teams are separated by three points.
Arbroath Community Sports Club (ACSC) currently lead the way having amassed 13 points from five games and are closely followed by Broughty, Dundee Celtic and Fairmuir on 12, nestled just behind are 5th placed Arbroath with 10 points.  It was evident early in the season the League was going to be highly competitive. Results from the 23rd of August show narrow wins for Arbroath and Celtic coupled with a high scoring draw between Riverside and table toppers ACSC. 
According to Stuart Donaldson of Arbroath Community Sports Club, "there’s a very good standard of football in the League hence the very tight top five so far. One explanation can be the high level of ‘talented young lads from all over."  Understandably Donaldson is delighted at the start his side has made and is hoping to "keep up the hard work and remain in the top half." ACSC’s beginning to the season is all the more impressive considering "it is the clubs first crack at the higher League this year."
The highly competitive nature of the League has also aided the sides competing in the Scottish Cup as Broughty, Fairmuir, Forfar, Riverside and St Andrews Colts advanced to the third round of the tournament. Other clubs in the League have also acquitted themselves well, with Arbroath, Dundee Celtic and ACSC being defeated at the Second Round stage in highly competitive matches.
The result for the most recent G Taylor League game indicates the close nature of the League and subsequent matches will not be limited to the start of the season with Dundee West and Lochside playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw. As a consequence only eight points now separate ACSC in top position and 7th placed Dundee West.
It is apparent the high number of good footballers representing every one of the competing clubs has manifested itself in a very tight League full of entertaining matches. 
So while the public takes interest in the Scottish Premiership Title race it is also worth turning attention to the U15 G Taylor League as the story of the season will prove every bit as interesting.
Grassroots football depends on the passion, devotion and time of generous people who stay in the background, working hard and committing countless hours of their spare time without ever gaining the recognition they deserve. 
One of these people is Karen Carlon, who is stepping down as Perth Youth Football Small Sided co-ordinator after several years in the role. Explaining that "the time is right personally to move onto a new adventure or project", Karen tells us how the adventure started:
"I started 6 years ago when I was invited along to a PKYFA league meeting as a friend had put my name forward for the role. I liked what I heard and thought I would give it a go. At the time of taking on the role, I ran my own football team aged 2001 but we played in the CEFFSA league."
Six years is a fair amount of time, and Karen is understandably overcome with nostalgia while talking about the memories and remembering the coaches and kids:
"I have lots of fond memories volunteering alongside our local coaches who are very committed to their roles within their clubs. My most enjoyable part was organising and running the Charity Football Festivals alongside Crieff JFC. I have been lucky and met a lot of fantastic coaches and kids from out with our Association at the Festivals and hopefully will stay in touch with a few. I was also lucky to be invited to attend a Football Education Trip in Valencia with the Scottish FA. This was a reat opportunity where I met coaches who were all in their roles for the same reasons, to see the children with their clubs develop from a positive experience."
While admitting to missing "probably everything", the now former co-ordinator is keen to stay in touch with football and already looks to the future:
"I am still involved in football, coaching Soccer Tots children aged between three to five years which I thoroughly enjoy. I have a couple of things that I would like to look into a bit more to see if there is any way I could support; disability football and mental health issues."
We at Youth Football Scotland would like to wish you, Karen, all the best for the future and thank you for a fantastic six years of work on behalf of the grassroots community.
Interview with Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts U13s, following their exciting opening day draw with Blue Brazil.
Thursday, 27 August 2015 00:00

Dundee West, Douglas Lads share 10 goals

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Fixture: Dundee West v Douglas Lads
Competition: Dundee and District YFL
Venue: Charlotte Street
Date: 25/08/2015

Dundee West took on Douglas Lads in a frantic first ever competitive 11-a-side match at Charlotte Street on 25 August, producing a remarkable comeback to salvage a 5-5 draw from the game after finding themselves 5-2 down at the interval.

Although The West had a couple of chances the start of the game, slack marking at the back gave their opponents opportunities to score. Douglas started as the better and also more clinical side and after eight minutes already found themselves two goals ahead.

However, Dundee began to settle into the game and Declan Hume scored his first of the game in the 13th minute to make it 2-1 after a good through ball left him one-on-one with the Douglas keeper.

Only a minute later, a misplaced pass then allowed Douglas to restore their two goal lead.

Dundee, however, grit their teeth and pulled one back through a fine Ryley Duncan strike from the edge of the box that found the top corner in the 23rd minute.

A penalty and an own goal extended Douglas’ lead to three at half time, adding to Dundee’s misery and giving them a mountain to climb in the second half.

Half Time: Dundee West  2-5 Douglas Lads

Dundee West came out fighting for the second half, scoring three minutes after the interval when Declan Hume scored his second of the game, once again finishing well after finding himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Galvanised by this, Dundee pushed on, but the Douglas defence held out until midway through the half until Declan Hume once again stepped up to the task by completing his hat trick by prodding the ball past the Douglas keeper once again.

With time almost running out, Dundee gave away a needless foul on the edge of our box. From the free kick, the ball was crossed into the box and met by a powerful header that was going in just under the crossbar. Yet Dundee West goalkeeper David Boylan somehow prevented a certain goal as he pulled off a magnificent save to push the ball off the bar, allowing the defence to clear the rebound.

It turned out to be a vital stop, as shortly after Declan Hume completed the comeback by grabbing the equaliser in the last minute of the game, dispatching a fine finish from yet another one-on-one with the keeper.

In the last few seconds of the game, Hume was then denied an opportunity to win the match by an offside call.

With two tough games coming up, Dundee West now know they cannot give teams a head start. While they showed great character to turn the game around, they will be well aware that their first-half performance and individual mistakes cost them the three points on the night. They will realise that they should try to come out of the blocks strongly and keep their concentration for the full 70 minutes. Nevertheless, feats of such will and togetherness are what make our beautiful game so special.

The turning point of this match was David Boylan’s save to prevent a certain goal. He produced a truly magic moment to keep the team’s momentum going, allowing them to get a vital equaliser.

The man of the match award goes to Declan Hume for his four-goal tally. Declan worked hard, finished beautifully and on another day might have added to his total.

Full Time: Dundee West 5-5 Douglas Lads


Progress follows Dryburgh Athletic in all that they are doing. They are developing off the pitch as a Community Club and it is looking rosy for both the boys and girls sections of the club on the pitch too.

"We’ve improved since last season," Taylor Scott, Dryburgh Athletic Girls 15s captain, told Youth Football Scotland. "We’ve been doing good and we’re near the top of the league so hopefully we can keep up the good work.

"I think we could win the league but we just need to put in more effort and try harder."

Her manager John Beatt is in agreement that they could be celebrating a league win at the end of the season.

"The girls in my squad at under-15s, they really want to win," he said. "That squad in particular have had a very good season, we’re sitting third in the league and they’re looking to try and win the league."

Whilst winning the league would definitely be an added bonus, for Beatt it is not the main aim.

"It’s not all about that for us. It’s about an improvement in their overall ability across the season," he said.

"The aims are too encourage more players to take part in football," secretary of the boys section Ronnie McCabe said.

"Some of the managers still focus on winning games but that’s not the be all and end all of things. It’s about getting kids involved, again, keeping them off the streets, giving them training, giving them things to do during the week and just getting them involved in sports."

This is a target they are certainly meeting, with Scott telling us her team "had a couple new players in."

She also told us how she would persuade someone to join her team: "I would just tell them about the club - they’re really helpful. Like if you haven’t started playing football they would help you do that, and they would help you make friends too."

Beatt had a clear idea of how he thought the girls felt about their affiliation to the club.

"I think they love it," he said. "Forming part of the community club and joining with the boys section has been a great thing for the girls. The boys section has been around since, I think it’s 1970, so they’re a well-run club, well-organised club, and the girls have really enjoyed becoming part of that.

"They seem quite proud of the name, they all wear their tops with pride."

All the signs are very encouraging for this thriving football club from Dundee.

Good luck to Dryburgh Athletic over the course of the season!

Wednesday, 05 August 2015 12:27

Dryburgh Athletic enjoy benefits of Quality Mark

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On arrival at Lochee Park, it was apparent that Dryburgh Athletic FC are doing many great things within their community. With girls of all ages training on the pitch, Youth Football Scotland caught up with coaches from coaches from both the girls and boys section

Both secretary and chairman of Dryburgh Athletic, John Beatt and Ronnie McCabe, were quick to compliment the Quality Mark award scheme that has seen their side become a more attractive team to outsiders and improve the togetherness of the community.

"I think what Quality Mark has done and [what] community clubs have done is bring together kids in certain areas,” said McCabe.

"Going back, kids would jump from team to team. But now we tend to find that a lot of kids come from the same schools. They grow up together, they go from school to club lengths, ‘Fun 4’s’ and stuff, so by the time they’ve grown it’s all their friends that are in the same team as them, they’re from the same area."

This does not just have an impact on the pitch, but away from it too. "It builds that community spirit within them, and I think that’s the main thing for Dryburgh. It lets them come together in an area with a common goal," said McCabe.

The safety of the kids is of paramount importance, and McCabe was also keen to stress that the Quality Mark would appeal to mothers, fathers, and guardians: “It lets the parents and any sponsors see that we’re certified, that we take things seriously, and that all the staff that we have, all the coaches, first aiders, are all certified, they’re all disclosure checked."

This confidence in the club is reflected in the coaching quality, which has been helped by Athletic’s status as a ‘Community Club’. The girls section, run by Beatt, has recently joined together with the boys section, and Beatt complimented the Scottish FA’s support in this task: “Joining together with the boys section, it opens up a lot of doors for ourselves. The people at the Scottish FA East office have been fantastic with us, they’ve given us a lot of help in setting up the community club."

In turn, the club has seen benefits rewarded to them. "It’s opened up a few doors for us in that the coaches, myself, and a coach from the boys section, have taken part in the McDonald’s Scottish FA Coach Mentor process, which is something that has come along with the community club," Beatt said.

This was a programme that Beatt heaped praise on: "[It’s] been fantastic. It’s given us as coaches an opportunity to work with Craig Ferret from the SFA, whose knowledge is brilliant. He’s been fantastic and he’s helping us put together a ‘Coaches Philosophy’, which we’re hoping to run across the board with all the coaches at the club."