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(Photo Credit: Scottish FA)
Nominations are underway for the 2019 Scottish FA Grassroots Awards.
The awards aim to recognise the efforts made by people who make a massive difference to grassroots football and the local community.
The awards will be split into regional and national catagories and clubs, coaches and volunteers from any of the six Scottish FA regions can be nominated. The winners will be presented with their awards at local ceremonies before heading to a showpiece national ceremony.
People can be nominated for any of the awards via the Scottish FA website. The catagories are as follows:
Best Volunteer in Youth Football
Best Volunteer in Adult Football
Best Volunteer in Girls/Womens Football
Best Para-Football Project
Best Community Football for All Project
Best Young Volunteer
Best Community Football Club
Best Professional Football Club in the Community.
Nominations will close on Friday 21st June.
The fixtures for the 2019 season of the SWF National Performance Leagues have been officially announced.
The leagues, which run at U15 and U19 level, had a successful inaugural season and will be expanded this year from 15 teams to 18 teams. Three additional teams will be joining the U19 league and two more joining the U15 league.
The new season for U15’s starts on Saturday 2nd March and will conclude on Saturday 9th November while the U19’s season will begin on Sunday 10th March and finish on Sunday 10th November.
First up in the U15's league will see Glasgow City take on Hibernian, new side Lanarkshire Hibs will face FC Kilmarnock and their will be an Edinburgh derby as Boroughmuir Thistle take on Heart of Midlothian. Reigning champions Celtic will play Bayside.
A Glasgow derby will start the U19 league as Glasgow City take on newcomers Glasgow Girls. Fellow new side Aberdeen face a trip to last years runners-up Hibernian. The last new side, Jeanfield Swifts, will play Rangers and Hamilton Accies will face Hearts.
U15's Opening Fixtures
Bayside vs Celtic
Boroughmuir Thistle vs Heart of Midlothian
Glasgow City vs Hibernian
Lanarkshire Hibs vs FC Kilmarnock
Free: Glasgow Girls
U19's Opening Fixtures
Glasgow City vs Glasgow Girls
Hamilton Academical vs Heart of Midlothian
Hibernian vs Aberdeen
Jeanfield Swifts vs Rangers
Free: Celtic 

Last weekend's action across the country was largely halted by the intervention of Jack Frost. Fortunately the snow has seemed to pass and we are looking at having a full card of fixtures on show this weekend.


Cup competitions are the focus this week, with Scottish Cup quarter finals taking place at U13 and U14 level.


Here are the pick of the games from across the country this weekend:




Portobello CFA vs West Lothian U13 - Stewart Brien Cup - Quarter Final

Both of these sides occupy the top two places in the SERYFA U13's First Division, meaning that we can expect a really close contest in thei Stewart Brien Cup Quarter Final match.

Portobello will go into the match as favourites, having fared much better in cup competitions this season than their opponents, as well as still holding a 100% record in the league.

West Lothian will be motivated however. They are in good form and sit top of the league at the moment. They will also be looking to avenge their defeat against Portobello earlier in the season in the Lothian Buses Cup, losing 5-2. Here is hoping for another high-scoring game on Sunday.

Dundee Celtic BC vs East Craigie Swifts U15 - Tommy Clark Trophy - Semi Final

These two played each other in December, with Dundee Celtic emerging as 1-0 winners, and a close match is expected once again in this highly anticipated semi final clash in the DDYFA.

Both sides are pushing hard in the league, occupying the second and third spots in the DDYFA U15s G Taylor League. Celtic occupy second, just two points above East Craigie having played one game more.

East Craigie will be looking to avenge their defeat to Celtic earlier in the season and both teams will be hoping that this game beats the weather.



Banks O'Dee Albion vs Dyce BC U15 - ADJFA U15's A League

A match with real ramifications at the top of the ADJFA A League takes place this weekend as Dyce BC travel to Spain Park to take on Banks O'Dee Albion.

Both sides have had great runs in the Scottish Cup. Banks O'Dee made it to the fifth round before being cruelly knocked out on penalties in a classic against Kilsyth Athletic, whilst Dyce have made it to the semi finals of the competition.

The last meeting between these two ended in a 1-1 draw so it will be interesting to see if anyone can come out on top this time.

EKFC Blue vs Hurlford BC U19 - Scottish Youth FA Cup - Quarter Final

Familiar opponents for both of these teams this weekend. These two contested the Scottish Cup Final last season and will clash for a place in this season's semis.

On that occasion it was EKFC who emerged victorious with a 2-1 win after extra time and it is expected that this match on Sunday will be equally close.

Hurlford will have their eyes set on revenge as well as a semi final place, whilst EKFC will be looking to complete consecutive cup triumphs.


Kerse United vs Braehead FC U14 - Scottish Youth FA Cup - Quarter Final
Kerse United have been tough opponents to play this season, however Braehead will travel to Little Kerse in Grangemouth full of confidence, setting up what should hopefully be a Scottish Cup classic.
The home side fought off a late comeback by Riverside CSC to set up this tie, whilst Braehead needed extra time to beat a stubborn Broxburn Athletic Colts.
Here's hoping we can get a few more goals in this contest, with a semi final place on offer.

Livingston goalkeeper Liam Kelly believes coaching is vital to a young shot-stopper and insists happiness will help young keepers reach the top.

Kelly was on hand to make a guest appearance at GK Icon’s free taster session on Friday night, with the training being led by Clyde’s goalkeeper coach Chris Fahey and Stranraer goalkeeping coach Eric Phillips. He explained why he wanted to help Fahey’s and Phillips’ initiative.

“I’ve came to support GK Icon because of the great work Chris and Eric do with the young kids. They give a lot back to the young goalkeepers in the Paisley and Renfrewshire area, so I want to be able to support that and answer a few questions the kids may have. I’m just happy they have the chance to work with great coaches like Eric and Chris."

Kelly is enjoying his first stint as a regular Premiership goalkeeper, having left boyhood club Rangers in the summer. He has played a vital part in what has been a great season back in the top flight for Livi. He shared his thoughts on what he thinks is key for a young keeper in the modern game.

“I think it’s important to listen, that’s a big thing. You should have an opinion, tell your coaches what you see and just try and get better everyday and in every training session.

“Every game you have an opportunity to become a better player, a better person and a better goalkeeper. Everytime you have a ball and a set goals with your mates is a chance to improve as a keeper, so just give it your best shot. As long as your happy just try and play to the best of your ability.”

Having made it to the top level, Kelly is aware of how hard it is to make it as a professional goalkeeper, and the demands of the modern game. He gave his advice on the best way for young keepers to develop their skills.

“When you get the opportunity to work with great coaches like Eric and Chris, I would take it if I was their age.

“In the grand scheme of things in terms of their career, it’s all about being happy. When times are tough just remember there is another game around the corner to put it right. Just enjoy playing your football, and then you can try and get to the highest level possible, wherever that is.”

Clyde goalkeeper coach Chris Fahey is helping young keepers learn from the best- and hopes that his GK Icon sessions encourage youngsters to put on the gloves.

Fahey runs his GK Icon sessions every Monday and Friday at the MOBO Sports Arena in Paisley alongside Stranraer goalkeeping coach Eric Phillips. He enlisted the help of Livingston keeper Liam Kelly and Falkirk’s David Mitchell to help run a free taster session for young goalkeepers.

He hopes the kids have learned from their experience training with professional keepers: “I was really pleased with the turnout we got. There were about 60 or 70 kids here, so that was good. They all had smiles on their face, and I hope they have learned something from me, David, Liam and Eric.

“I was pleased Liam and David came along and gave that bit of inspiration to the boys and girls that were here. They are playing at a really good level, so it’s good for the kids to see them here.”

Fahey and Phillips’ sessions are all about learning the fundamentals of goalkeeping, whilst enjoying themselves in the process. Fahey revealed his own experiences growing up inspired him to start up his own goalkeeper sessions for youngsters.

“When I was a kid, I never had any goalkeeping coaching. When I was young you were told to go into the corner, and kick a ball around with each other, I never really knew about technique or how to become a goalkeeper.

“That’s why myself and Eric started this. We now have a bit of experience behind us, and hopefully we can pass that on to the kids.

“Some of the kids we train do the same drills now as the ones I do with Clyde’s first team, the kids just pick it up very quickly.”

Having played for many teams across Scotland, including Albion Rovers, Raith Rovers, and Stenhousemuir, Fahey has plenty of goalkeeping wisdom and knowledge he can pass on to aspiring keepers.

He shared his top tips for young goalkeepers: “The main thing is being told how to be a goalkeeper. This means they won’t pick up bad habits from a guy who has never played in goals before.

“Guys like me and Eric have played professionally all our lives and we have guys that are professional just now coming in and telling them what to do and what not to. Coming to classes like this even if it’s only an hour a week will really help their development.

“My biggest piece of advice for a young goalkeeper, and their parents, is if they make a mistake don’t worry about it. Turn on Match of the Day on a Saturday night and you’ll see players on £100,000 a week making mistakes. You just have to get on with it.

“The biggest thing about being a goalkeeper is to learn from mistakes and try not do it again. All goalkeepers make mistakes. I think managers and parents have to realize that."

Stephen McManus believes Motherwell have done all the right things to deliver a successful youth academy.

McManus was part of the Scotland squad that featured at Star Sixes, valiantly fighting for a joint third place finish in the star-studded tournament.

His focus now returns to Motherwell, where he coaches at various levels, from U18s, to the first team and the former Scotland international says the club have the right staff working with the different groups at Motherwell.

“I’ve been working at all different stages at the club, from youths to the first team I’m not really in the academy as much myself, I’m based at Fir Park. I am dealing with the academy for about an hour and a half a day, but the people at the club have been great with them.

“Steven Hammell and David Clarkson are based at Braidhurst, whilst I’m based at Fir Park. It’s good to have people in the right areas developing footballers for the first team.”

Motherwell have several young academy graduates in their team, with Chris Cadden, Allan Campbell, and David Turnbull all regular features in Stephen Robinson’s matchday squad. 16-year old Stuart McKinstry was named on the bench for the Steelmen’s Boxing Day fixture, highlighting the pathway to the first team for young stars.

McManus hopes to not only produce players who will play for Motherwell, but stars that will go on to become household names.

“We want to grow players that want to play for their country and play at the highest stage they possibly can. We have people that are ambitious all the way throughout the club, and these people are helping to drive the club forward.

“Whatever team you’re in, obviously the goal is the first team, but ultimately the aim has to be to play for your country and play in the biggest games you can.”

McManus thinks Fir Park boss Robinson is a massive part in this motivation for youngsters. He has seen the Northern Irishmen deliver the important message of youth development at Fir Park first hand.

“The manager really drives the message to our youths. He wants them in the first team, so he can sell them on, and see them play for their country, wherever there from. The fans demand good players, so through our academy, we try and produce good talent.”

Monday, 07 January 2019 16:58

David James | Timing the key to youth success

Written by

Former England goalkeeper David James believes that money has its pros and cons for youth development, but thinks the modern game allows young players to grow and mature.

The ex-Three Lions stopper was in Glasgow for the Star Sixes tournament, which his side eventually won, beating the Rest of The World 3-2 in the final. James spoke before the final day of games about how hard it was for him to break into squads as a youngster.

“There’s a boy I’ve been speaking to whilst I’ve been here, who I used to play with in my school boy team at Watford. I didn’t recognize him because it was a few years ago now. At that stage in football though, we had four apprentices at Watford.

“These schoolboys played with the youth team, so the opportunities were difficult back then because there were less spaces to fill. The influx of money means more players can be afforded opportunities”

With more time being given for players to develop, it has given young stars a greater period to grow, as both a footballer and a person. James offers Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn as a prime example of this.

“Players like Angus Gunn. Gunn is 24, and prior to his spell at Norwich last year, he hadn’t played a professional game. In a sense, it’s took him till 22 years old to make a professional appearance. You would never have got away with that 20 years ago. There’s more numbers in the game, but there is more space to get into a better position.”

James feels that an extended growth period in academies are a great way for youth prospects to fully prosper in modern football, but knows how hard it can be to break through, regardless of the circumstances.

“The money has allowed people to grow, rather than the difficulty to get into a starting 11. I think it’s given people longer periods to develop. Smaller clubs suffer though, because they haven’t got the money to hand out equal opportunities.”

“It’s never easy, when you do the numbers it’s something like 2,500 positions that have to be filled. That’s not many, and when you've got players like Joe Cole who have had long careers, sometimes these positions don’t come about very often.”

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The GoFitba project, established by the Scottish Football Partnership Trust, has received glowing reviews from parents, coaches and youngsters alike.
The project was started with the aim of providing children from disadvantaged areas in the country with the education nd opportunity to learn bout the importance of healthy eating and exercise. The report was released in the partnerships 'Keepie-Uppie' magazine.
The first block of the project was delivered between March and June 2018 by 12 clubs, providing for more than 200 disadvantaged schoolchildren in their local communities.
Over 3,800 hours of eduction was delivered over the 12 week period, with over 1,900 hot meals being served over the same time period.
Each week was made up of two hour sessions, with the first hour being dedicated to exercise and football development, with the second focusing on the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.
The interim report shows some promising statistics regarding how well the project has been implemented. 94% of the children involved in the project felt they were made more aware that an hour of moderate activity on a daily basis would help them stay healthy, with 98& reporting that they would continue to remain active in football or other sports. 
The report also showed an increase in the children's confidence, with 88% of participants reporting that their self-confidence increased as a result of the project. 93% felt more confident working in groups and 91% felt encouraged to get their friends involved as well.
There are even more positive signs of the project helping with the children's education towards healthy eating, with reports of over 85% of children understanding the importance of various aspects of eating well in regards to fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and more.
The key statistic being that 90% of children stated their intent to continue eating healthily.
The project has also had a positive reaction from those involved. A parent from Spartans had this to say: "Lewis is now always looking forward to Fridays at school and this is because he knows he has GoFitba at the end of the day. He says he loves the food and wants to have more of this at home.
"He wasn't that into football before now but the project has resulted in him asking for his first ever pair of football boots."
Teachers have loved it too! Heather Sabatini, the Deputy Head Teacher at Shortlees Primary in Kilmarnock had this to say: "GoFitba has provided our pupils from SIMD 1/2 areas with a fantastic opportunity to develop their fitness and learn more about the importance of eating a balanced meal through a very structured and progressive football programme.
"The pupils have felt included, involved and engaged throughout the project and their self-confidence, communication, decision-making nd problem-solving abilities have improved significantly with all pupils now socialising when they eat and engaging in conversations with each other.
"The family session on the final week was very successful too and parents/carers really enjoyed having the opportunity to share in the success of their child's learning."
This is only an interim report, but if results continue to be this promising by the time the project finishes, it could be a mainstay in children's education for years to come. 
Airdrie United Boys Club and West Calder United Juniors have come together this Christmas to raise funds for a local hospital.
The two clubs raised between them a total of £1350, which has been donated to the New Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.
The hospital holds a special place in the hearts of those involved in both clubs, particularly for Airdrie United as one of their current youth players was treated for cancer at the hospital when he was a toddler.
Cheques were presented to the hospital, the largest of its kind in Scotland, last Sunday morning, as well as a sack of gifts to help lift the spirits of those who will be in the hospital over the holidays.
Airdrie United 2006 coach Chris Gallacher spoke of the relationship between the club and the hospital.
"Our 2006 player Lewis McParland was treated at yorkhill for cancer as a toddler. His family decided they wanted to give sonething back to the hospital. He asked his teammates for help and they answered the call.
"One players dad William McColl started a fundgiving page raising $1100 players donated gifts and selection boxes. Airdrie Utd donated £50 and West Calder Juniors donated £200.
"The players were taken on a guided tour and shown how their money would be put to goodd use for equipment and care. Their gifts will be distributed to the patients. The boys were glad to help out their hero captain Lewis and his kindness and gratitude towards the ward that treated him was heart warming."
Kirsten Sinclair, Chief Operating Officer at Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity said: “Being in hospital at Christmas time can be very difficult for our young patients, but thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we can ensure that the hospital is filled with plenty of exciting events and activities to spread festive cheer.
“We’d like to thank everyone at Airdrie United Boys Club for their incredible support and generosity this Christmas, which helps us ensure that children and their families have the best possible care and experience at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.”
If you would like to donate to the GRHC, you can do so at https://www.glasgowchildrenshospitalcharity.org/donate
For many people a simple run around a football pitch is a trivial matter, but for 24 year old Kimberley Macfarlane, her run around the hallowed turf at Hampden Park must have felt like climbing Mt. Everest.

Macfarlane, from Fife, had set herself the target of running a lap of the pitch at the national football stadium after months of gruelling physiotherapy and on the 4th December, she reached her goal.

It hasn't come without hardship though, and Macfarlane has suffered more in the past three years than anyone could possibly imagine. In 2015, Kim was diagnosed with a rare bladder condition called Fowler's Syndrome, which affects the ability of young women to pass water normally.

Living with this incurable disease is extremely difficult and it came to a head for Kim, when in 2016 she tried to take her life.

Kim reached out to YFS in an effort to inform everyone of the effects of Fowler's Syndrome, as well as to thank two specific charities who greatly helped her through this very tough period in her life.

"On the 17th of March 2015 I went in for surgery on my nose having previously broke it while playing football. After the operation I had some difficulties passing urine and ended up in retention. I ended coming home from the hospital with a urethral catheter," said Kimberley when contacting YFS.

I was perfectly healthy (bar the broken nose) before going in for the operation. Skip forward to the present day I now have a suprapubic catheter and I am holding out for a urostomy.

"Because of this my mental health deteriorated when everything came to a head on 22nd August 2016, after being sectioned I ran away to a bridge and jumped off. I ended up breaking two vertebrae in my back and had a horrible brace for three months."

The first charity Kimberley wanted to thank was The Express Group. Based in Fife, they have been helping people in the region for 40 years and Macfarlane is clear about the impact they have had on her life.

"I can safely say that without this group I really don’t know where I would be. They have stood by me through some of the darkest days of my life.

"They are a registered charity and rely on donations/funding to be able to deliver a safe space for anyone aged over 18 to attend."

The second charity she wanted to thank was Support Within Sport, which was launched in 2016 by former Inverness CT manager Richie Foran, in an effort to provide help for players and coaches struggling with mental health issues.

"Before February I had never heard of them. After a dip in my mental health they got in touch with me and wanted to offer some help. So I met up with a doctor who managed to put in place physiotherapy at Hampden Park.

"For me football has always been a massive part of my life and to have that taken away from me left a hole in my heart. But thanks to my physio Joanne I am building up my goal of trying to get back to playing football. Considering I was struggling to walk, let alone run meant we had a massive task on our hands. But amazingly she has stuck by my side and inspires me to be the best I can."

"So really, these two charities give me hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. For a better future. So I just want to thank everyone in my life for helping and encouraging me to be who I want to be."

If you would like to support these two charities, or if you are suffering with mental health issues yourself, you can find out more by following the links below:
Support Within Sport: http://supportwithinsport.com/
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