Westdyke Community Club - a prime example of how a club can embrace the Quality Mark and build on a strong future for all of its players.
That is certainly how club secretary Jonathan Watt feels, and all evidence points to that, with a new 3G pitch on the way and teams performing well on the pitch as well.
"The Quality Mark has been fantastic for the club. We embarked on this in 2009 and have seen the benefits through the coaching qualities coming through." Watt said.
"Players and parents have always been very interested in finding out what the club's about.
"Having that Quality Mark gives them that sort of stamp of approval that they know that the coaches are all fully PVG’d [Protecting Vulnerable Group Scheme Member], all that kind of stuff, and the quality of coaching is there for them."
As well as having the benefits of the Quality Mark, Westdyke are also feeling the effects of their relationship with the SFA Regional Team. "The support from these guys has been tremendous, right from the very start, like the Quality Mark. They have supported us right the way through, they’ve encouraged us to go and do certain things."
One of these things will help the team play all year round. "We’ve got a little project, well, quite a big project in fact, that we’re looking to develop here, where we’re going to pick up one of the grass pitches, potentially putting down a 3G within the next year or so. We’re quite well down the line on that, and the SFA have been right behind us on that as well, as obviously the council and some of the businesses round about us as well."
It is very encouraging to hear how much the Scottish FA is helping youth clubs, and hopefully the country will reap the rewards in years to come. Watt for one, is very thankful: “Going back to the Scottish FA and their support, I can’t thank them enough, the guys from Graham Sutherland through Mark Slater and all the other guys there, they’ve been tremendous.”Jonathan Watt is the coach at Westdyke Community Club, helping the girls’ under-13s team and boys’ under-14s team. He is also the club secretary, meaning as well as helping with the issues on the pitch, he’s dealing with any off-field situations.
Quick to talk about the teams he coaches, Watt proudly told us of how his girls’ team is currently performing. “I’ve got the one that’s slightly older, slightly stronger, and we’ve been very competitive this season. At the midway point we’re up there with the Aberdeen teams and we’ve had a good season so far, very enjoyable.”
He plans to continue to develop the girls and sustain their results for the rest of the year. “[We are] looking to build on what we’ve already achieved so far. Looking to remain competitive, and looking to use the girls in different positions and develop them, as we then look to potentially move some of them up to 16s, which we do in this region, for next season.”
As for the boys’ season which is yet to begin, Watt was calm about their chances of silverware – it is development that he craves, not trophies. “We’ve got boys teams from 13’s up to 17’s. We’ve got one or two teams in each age group. The expectations are for all those teams to be competitive, to develop. We’re not expecting to win leagues. We’ll probably get close with one or two of the teams, but it’s all about competing, enjoyment, and developing the players as we go forward.”
It’s an attitude that echoes the mantra of the club. “The club ethos is all about getting boys and girls involved from the local community and wider. Giving them an opportunity to play football, making them as good as we possibly can, developing them into young adults and footballers,” Watt said.
This ethos of development can only be helped by the SFA’s Quality Mark award scheme, something that Westdyke have gotten themselves fully involved in. “Quality Mark has been fantastic for the club,” Watt told us. “We embarked on this way back in 2009. We have seen the benefits through the coaching quality coming through.”