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Dom Thomas may only be 22, but that isn’t stopping his aspirations of becoming a successful youth coach.

Dom Thomas currently plays for Dumbarton, on loan from Kilmarnock, and has also enjoyed spells at Motherwell and Queen of the South. Despite being in the infancy of his career, Thomas explained he is eager to get into youth football coaching sooner rather than later:

“The way Scottish football is, for me, is that its downfall comes from coaching. I want to make my mark on the game as early as I can." said Thomas.

“It’s frustrating to watch young kids playing up and down the country go into pro youth football and coaching. I feel that the ability gets knocked out of them a bit and they're not allowed to go and express themselves, which I don't agree with. I’ve experienced it myself and I just think the way some players are coached, I just don’t agree with it.”

These thoughts have Thomas determined to provide coaching to youths in his local area of Cambuslang, which he has done through his Dom Thomas Soccer School.

 “I set up the academy about a year ago but it mainly consisted of small group sessions. I decided to do some camps over October which I felt was the perfect time to start doing the camps. We’ve had 64 boys come through which is absolutely amazing. It’s good for me also as it taking place in Cambuslang, which is where I grew up playing.”

Thomas, having finished his early youth career, is hoping he can leave a good impression on those who come to his camps: “For me I want to make it as enjoyable as possible. I make sure they play with a smile on their face and make friends. The kids have been polite and well-mannered as well which make it easier for me as a coach.

“Obviously there are serious elements to it but if I get a talented kid in, I tell them to express themselves, take as many touches, and make that great pass. In this country you’re told you need to be big and strong, for me I want to express my kid’s ability.”

Thomas already has plans for the future, and hopes he can continue to influence the way young people from Cambuslang play the beautiful game: “I want to teach the younger age groups what I have learnt from my own experience.

If you have an ability, go and show your ability. Whether that be through my camps or out with your friends, because sooner or later you’ll look back and wish you had done certain things better.”

“Lombardi Associates is an Edinburgh based organisation specialising in football regulation and international sports law. They offer advice and support to sports clubs from grassroots to elite level as well as to players, coaches, intermediaries and governing bodies. Free initial telephone consultations are available to discuss any query you may have with appropriate payment plans available, thereafter, to suit individual needs.”


At a time when grassroots sport faces more government cutbacks, it is important that amateur clubs have a sound understanding of other streams of revenue open to them that can potentially be used to develop and sustain their organisations.

In 2001, following the famous Bosman ruling, FIFA introduced the training compensation system which would apply to clubs who were involved in the training and education of young players. The ideology behind the system was to encourage increased and better-quality training of young players by awarding compensation to those clubs who had been involved and invested in their training and education. At the same time, FIFA also introduced the solidarity mechanism system which provides compensation to former clubs who have provided training and education to a player, each time that player is transferred between clubs of two different national associations in exchange for a transfer fee.

Training Compensation

Article 20 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (“FIFA RSTP”) govern the system of training compensation and states that:

“Training compensation shall be paid to a player’s training club(s): (1) when a player signs his first contract as a professional, and (2) each time a professional is transferred until the end of the season of his 23rd birthday. The obligation to pay training compensation arises whether the transfer takes place during or at the end of the player’s contract.”

Further information as to when the system is triggered and how compensation is calculated can be found under Annex 4 of FIFA RSTP. The training compensation system applies to the training and education of players between the ages of 12 and 21, and will only be paid up to the age of 23 for training incurred up to the age of 21. In certain circumstances, clubs who are liable to pay such compensation may be able to establish that a player’s training had already concluded prior to the age of 21 (but this should only be in exceptional cases). The obligation to pay training compensation is over and above that of the transfer fee, although if two clubs agree on a transfer fee this is regarded as being inclusive of training compensation unless stipulated otherwise. Further, it should also be noted that FIFA has advised, in previous disputes, that only the entitled clubs can expressly waive their right to training compensation. Therefore, it cannot be agreed by the two clubs involved in the immediate transfer, that training compensation will be waived by all former clubs involved in the training and education of the player. Only you, as the entitled club, can waive that right.

There are two scenarios where training compensation will apply: -

  1. On registering as a professional player for the first time.

  2. Any subsequent transfer of a player, between two clubs of different associations, up until the end of the season of the player’s 23rd birthday.


Upon the registration of a professional player for the first time, training compensation will be due to all former clubs of which the player has previously been registered and who has contributed to his training since the start of his 12th birthday. In relation to any subsequent transfer of that player, FIFA RSTP allow for only the immediate former club to receive training compensation.

The calculation of training compensation is carried out on a pro-rata basis and associations are instructed to divide their clubs into a maximum of four categories which correspond with the clubs’ financial investment in training players. There is a set figure attached to each category and the sum equates to the average training cost incurred for one player over the course of one year, multiplied by a “player factor”.


The current categorisation for UEFA clubs is as follows:

  • Category 1 - €90,000

  • Category 2 - €60,000

  • Category 3 - €30,000

  • Category 4 - €10,000


It should be noted that in the UK, England has clubs spanning all four categories whilst Scotland has clubs ranging from categories 2-4 with Northern Ireland and Wales having clubs identified in categories 3-4.

Under FIFA RSTP, training compensation only applies to the international transfer of players (a transfer between clubs of two different national associations, ie. England and Scotland) however clubs/academies should pay particular attention to their national association/league rules and regulations as similar compensation schemes may be due upon a domestic transfer under certain jurisdictions (for example, in Northern Ireland and Scotland).

The rules regarding training compensation apply to both the permanent and temporary (loan) transfers of professional players.

Under FIFA’s rules, the payment of training compensation is the responsibility of the club which is registering the player, and payments should be made within 30 days of the registration with the new association/or the date on which the first professional contract was signed. However, in reality, this often does not happen and buying clubs may hold back on the payment until the entitled club makes a request in writing, or raises a claim with the Dispute Resolution Chamber (an independent dispute resolution service provided by FIFA).

If you think you may be entitled to training compensation, you should contact the buying club in the first instance and if no response is forthcoming, lodge a claim with the Dispute Resolution Chamber in the event of an international transfer or your national association in the event of a domestic transfer and a similar scheme is available to you under domestic rules.

Clubs claiming an entitlement to training compensation only have two years from the date of the relevant player’s registration with the new club to lodge a claim with FIFA, and this should be taken into account by any club considering any claim.


Solidarity Mechanism

Unlike training compensation, solidarity payments do not cease to apply upon the conclusion of the season of the player’s 23rd birthday. Instead, the solidarity system continues to apply upon every international transfer until the player retires. In order to claim a solidarity mechanism payment, the claimant club requires to have trained and educated the player between the ages of 12 and 23, and the international transfer has to have taken place whilst under contract.

Under FIFA RSTP, 5% of the transfer compensation agreed with the selling club must be held back by the buying club and distributed to the former clubs involved in training over the time period discussed above. For seasons of which the player was aged between 12 and 15, former clubs shall receive 0.25% of the total compensation whilst clubs who trained the player during the seasons of his 16th and 23rd birthdays shall receive 0.5% of the total compensation. If a player was not with a former club for an entire season, the compensation will be calculated pro-rata.

To put this into perspective when Neymar moved to PSG for a record-breaking transfer fee of €250m, his former club Santos was reported to have received the equivalent of €9m as part of their share of the solidarity contribution. Neymar had been previously registered with Santos for in excess of five seasons, during which time he had been part of the youth squad as well as the first team. Further, youth amateur clubs have also made the headlines for their receipt of solidarity contribution. In 2015, Wallsend Boys Club received a cash boost when they claimed their share of the 5% solidarity contribution from Fraser Forster’s transfer from Celtic to Southampton. In addition, the club also received a healthy cash injection when Jermain Defoe transferred from Toronto to Southampton. More recently Dyce Boys Club, in Scotland, received a six-figure sum following Stuart Armstrong’s move from Celtic to Southampton.

Under FIFA’s rules, the payment of solidarity contribution is the responsibility of the buying club and payments should be made within 30 days of the transfer of the player. However, as per training compensation, buying clubs may sit on the sums until the claimant club requests it in writing or files a with the Dispute Resolution Chamber (an independent dispute resolution service provided by FIFA).

Again, clubs/academies should pay particular attention to their national association/league rules and regulations as similar schemes may be triggered upon a domestic transfer in certain jurisdictions.

If you think you may be entitled to solidarity contribution, you should contact the buying club in the first instance and if no response is forthcoming, lodge a claim with the Dispute Resolution Chamber in the event of an international transfer or your national association in the event of a domestic transfer and a similar scheme is available to you under domestic rules.

As in the case of training compensation, it should be noted that claimants only have two years from the date of the relevant player’s registration with the new club to lodge a claim with FIFA, and this should be taken into account by any club considering a claim because after which time their claim will become time-barred.

The rules regarding solidarity mechanism also apply to both permanent and temporary (loan) transfers of players.


Whilst transfer fees continue to grow, amateur clubs must take the opportunity to benefit from this significant revenue stream that is readily open to them. Solidarity contribution, in particular, has the ability to provide continuous significant funding to amateur clubs as it continues to trigger upon every transfer, and does not cease at the end of the season of the player’s 23rd birthday. The solidarity mechanism is therefore a vital source of revenue that can assist in ensuring the sustainability of amateur clubs, many of which find it increasingly difficult to raise the funds required to operate year in, year out.

It is important therefore that amateur clubs (1) ensure that they are familiar with the FIFA rules governing training compensation and solidarity mechanism, (2) understand what payments they are entitled to and when they become due and (3) keep track of the movements of their former players.

If your club would like further information or to discuss a matter relating to Training Compensation or Solidarity Contribution, please get in touch on 0131 473 1592 and we would be happy to assist you.

“I got involved in coaching for the love of the game and to help young kids get better at the game they love.”
These are the words of Alasdair More, a footie-mad uncle who has taken great pride over the years in coaching and watching his nephew James, now 14-years-old, develop into a talented young player.
But Alasdair suffers from dyslexia and – inspired by the story of Paul McNeill that was published online by the SFA - he spoke to YFS about the challenges he’s faced in life, and how football has helped him overcome them:
“My dyslexia made me feel less confident,” he reveals. “But getting involved in football helped it grow back, and it’s made me feel like a stronger person.
“Helping young kids improve in the game was a great feeling and it made me feel happy because I know I helped give something back.”
Alasdair was goalkeeper coach at Blantyre Victoria Youth Club (formerly Lanarkshire Boys Club) whilst his nephew was in the 2004 squad and, even though James is a midfielder, Alasdair feels privileged to have had the opportunity to play a part in his development.
He said: “To see such a great attitude in a wee man who loves football is great.
“It makes me so happy to know I helped him out at a young age by putting down cones, doing drills and playing football on the street.
“We’re a very close family, so it’s a special feeling – even now as a supporter – to know that I’ve played a big part in his footballing life.”
James has since moved on to play for Mill United, but before leaving Blantyre he bagged last seasons Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Parents’ Player of the Year awards and will always be grateful for the support and inspiration his uncle has given him throughout his fledgling career.
He said: “Me and my uncle would practice down the park when I was younger, and he would tell me all about his background in football.
“It made me fall more in love with the game.”
It is estimated that one in ten people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, including ex-Rangers star Steven Naismith, but rather than letting it hold him back, Alasdair has used the adversity to inspire the next generation of footballers; to help them feel comfortable with who they are and to realise that they can overcome any obstacles in their way:
“James knew I have dyslexia and that I wouldn’t let it stop me coaching because I love football so much,” he said. “I started growing in confidence when I saw these young players looking up to me and starting to believe in their own ability.
“It fills me with so much pride knowing I’ve helped these kids fall in love with football and taught them never to give up on their dreams.”
Although he’s no longer coaching, Alasdair is excited to continue supporting his nephew whatever the future may hold, and will always cherish the memories from his time at Blantrye:
“A particular high point has to be coaching the goalkeepers of the 2000’s team when they won the league title, and being involved with James’ team was special,” he remembers. “Now, I watch as a spectator because I want the very best for the wee man.
“I love every second of it.”
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 10:28

WWPIS: The Conversation Afterwards...

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We have all been there as parents on many occasions.  We have stood in glorious weather and horrific weather, seen many great performances and seen plenty of forgettable ones.

Sometimes we are in great spirits ourselves, have had a good week at work and have not been rushing around like maniacs trying to get our children to all of their scheduled events.

Other times we struggle to know what day of the week it is and arrive at our children’s sporting commitments with seconds to spare having picked up our Costa coffee that helps us get through the next hour, flustered and probably not in the best frame of mind.

So many external factors can have an impact on what we say and how we behave around our children and perhaps none more so than after a match or a training session.  I really get it that watching our children play sport is one of the greatest things, particularly when it all goes well and according to plan.  However, what happens when things do not or we have had that bad week at work?

Have you ever thought or reflected on how you may behave afterwards with your child or is it dependent on how they have performed or how you are feeling?  To some extent of course it is.

Having reflected on this we felt it a good idea that no matter how you may be feeling inside, no matter how bad your week has been, no matter how stressed you are that there are a few questions that you can ask your child that allow both you and them to be positive about the experience that you have just watched, regardless of their performance.



‘I love you’ – First and foremost, you are their parent, not their coach. Remind them that your love is not conditional on their performance or the result. The comfort and support that comes from hearing ‘I love you’ will stay with your child long after memories of the match fade.

‘I’m proud of you’ – Research into the fear of failure consistently shows that the fear of shame and disappointment is the biggest in youth sport. Telling your child that you are proud will help reduce their worries that they have let you down.

‘What was the best bit?’ – Even if your child has not performed as well as you may have liked, they will have found something positive.  It may be the post match hot dog but it allows them to reflect on the positive part of the experience for them.

‘Did you have fun?’ – Sport is meant to be fun. It is why most kids want to take part. If this is the first question you ask, you’ll reinforce this.

‘Who was your best team mate?’ – Foster a belief in your child that it is about the whole group.  Ask them for their opinions and don’t be tempted to interrupt and give them all of yours.

‘What did you think you did well today?’ – Another way to increase intrinsic motivation is to focus on how they performed and not what the score was.  Again, this allows them to reflect and think about parts of their own performance that they were in control of.

‘What might you do differently next week?’ – A really important question as this will allow your child to think about some of their mistakes but immediately gives them the opportunity to look ahead and have another go at the following game or training session.



‘Did You Win?’ – If you were not watching, undoubtedly the most common question asked by sporting parents.  This immediately tells your child that that is the thing that you value most, yet we know there are far more important things that form your children’s sporting experience. Of course you may want to ask this question,  just try not to  make it your first one.

‘Did you score?’ – Probably the second most common question asked by sporting parents.  Again, it gives the child the impression that the outcome is what you value most.  What happens if they made five assists, made more tackles and worked harder than any other player?

‘Why Did You Do That?’ – This is all about assigning blame. It is aggressive and your child does not need this type of debrief.  Every child will make millions of mistakes and poor decisions, it is really important that we do not put them off making any decisions at all.  I know we would like them to learn from their experiences but there are better ways and better times to do this.

‘That was awful’ – This takes the fun out of sport and involves making a judgement call on how they played. At best, you are right that they didn’t play well and this confirms their doubts. At worst, they think they played well and your withering assessment shatters their confidence.

‘False Praise’ – Giving lavish praise can be detrimental to young children. Children can be quite apt at telling when they are being praised for no real reason.

‘You Were So Much Better Than Them/Him/Her’ – Try not to make statements that compare with others.  Making comparisons is not a healthy way of helping talent and our children develop.

‘It Doesn’t Matter’ – Of course, in the long run, the performance and result of an U11 match doesn’t really matter; but, at the time, it may matter to your child. It is good to try and provide context, but trivialising the defeat won’t make them feel any better.

Of course, this probably makes a huge amount of sense in the cold light of day, but many things can potentially affect the environment after our children have trained or been involved in a match.  Try to keep a couple of the positive phrases up your sleeve!  They may be useful as you are calming down and ultimately they will have a far more positive impact on the enjoyment of your child. Remember that is why they are ultimately playing in the first place.

Monday, 24 September 2018 14:21

iBaller announce partnership with Cambuslang FA

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iBaller and Cambuslang Football Academy have announced a partnership with the aim of investing more money in grassroots football.
iBaller is Scotland's only permanent football carnival. Based in Glasgow, the carnival is perfect for birthday parties and work gatherings and ensures fun for all ages through high energy and maximum-fun football based games and activities.
The partnership is iBaller's first venture into community football and will aim to donate a portion of their revenues to Cambuslang FA so that they can reinvest in their academy as well as the wider community.
A statement from Louise Reid at Cambuslang FA said about the partnership, "Cambuslang Football Academy are so proud to be working in partnership with iBaller. The kids in the academy will benefit from this massively, whether it will be from birthday parties, days out with family and friends or fun days out with the academy. It is guarenteed to put a smile on the kids faces.
"The academy can't thank iBaller enough for the invitation to be involved in such a fantastic opportunity and offering us this chance to make money from this partnership. All money earned will be put straight back into our academy and will benefit all the kids within the academy and will help to develop the kids further and push the kids forward."
Fraser Hornby turns 19 years old on the 13th of September and his 19th year on earth could prove to be the most important of his career.
The Everton youngster came out of this recent international break in fine form, starting off with a hat-trick in Scotland's Under-21 match against Andorra on Thursday, before rounding off a double against the Dutch, scoring a brace in Doetinchem in a 2-1 win.
This form has put the striker's name into the spotlight, with Scotland Under-21 coach Scot Gemmill predicting an influx of interest for the target man, who is open to the idea of a loan move away from Merseyside in January.

He said: “I’m delighted for Fraser. You can see a young player starting to emerge and he’s developing all the time.

"He had a good tournament in Toulon in the summer and he’s really benefited from playing against those sort of teams.

“He’s got that physicality which is important but Fraser is not just about that. It’s about intelligence, a willingness to do the work and the talent as well. In football today you need the full package but he is definitely on schedule.

“I’m thrilled he’s come home to play in Scotland in an important qualification match and done so well.

“I’m sure clubs are queuing up to take him on loan now.”

Whether Hornby will take up the option of moving away is another factor to consider. The youngster has set his aspirations high this season and hopes to force his way into Everton manager Marco Silva's plans for this season.

What is certain is that Everton defnitely view Hornby as a valuable asset to the English Premier League club. Hornby made his first-team debut in a Europa League tie against Apollon Limassol, playing 82 minutes in a 3-0 victory, and he has also won the club's coveted Keith Tamlin award, an award given to a player for their “excellence, attitude and application” during their time in Everton's Academy.

And if that already wasn't enough hype to live up to, he has also been taken under the wing of Everton icon Duncan Ferguson. Standing at 6ft 2in, Hornby certainly measures up well against Ferguson and it is clear to see that his partnership with the former Scotland international has had a positive impact.

“Duncan’s a fantastic person to learn off" said Hornby during the summer

"I’ve had the pleasure of training with the first team quite a lot over the last few months and he’s been really good with me.

“I think he understands that I’m still learning the position (Hornby was signed from Northampton as a midfielder). So I’m taking all of his advice on board and hopefully it’ll make me a better player.

“I’ve got two sides to me. I’ve got a side to me off the pitch but when I go on it, it’s all business for me. I like to put myself about in the right way. But off the pitch, it’s important to have a balance of being calm before you cross that white line.

“The best bit of advice he’s given me is to always be in the box.

"Pundits often say about strikers that they’re in the best place at the right time. But, if you can get yourself into the best position all the time, you've got a better chance of scoring goals.”

(Photo courtesy of Kilmarnock FC)

Jack Paterson raised a few eyebrows when he left Kilmarnock in September 2017. The young midfielder had already been drafted into the first team squad by Lee Clark, even making the bench twice. But, with one post on Instagram, the midfielder announced he was leaving his boyhood club of nine years.

His destination? Doha, Qatar. His dad had been offered a job in the Arab Gulf, and Jack moved with the family.

“I went over to Qatar and spoke to a few clubs and then I went to train with Al-Gharafa.”

Al-Gharafa are a relatively successful club in Qatar, playing in nearby Al Rayyan. They’ve won the league seven times, with the last win coming in 2010, and they also won the Qatari Stars Cup (Qatar’s version of the League Cup) this year. Notable former players include Marcel Desailly, Ze Roberto, and Juninho Pernambucano, and there’s one current star plying his trade for The Cheetahs, but more on him later.

Moving to Qatar was always going to present some challenges, but the former Grange Performance Academy pupil wasn’t too fazed by his new surroundings.

“At first it was quite hard,” Jack admitted. “It was near the summertime when I went, so it was 35-40 degrees. We had to train in the mornings, at about eight o’clock so that it wasn’t too sunny. I found it okay, but at first it was difficult.”

“The Qatari teams were quite good. The team I was training with had Wesley Sneijder, so I was training with him some days, and that was crazy. Vladimir Weiss was there as well.”

“Basically all the Qataris speak English. I didn’t think that would be the case, but it was. Every team was an English-speaking club, so it wasn’t too bad.”

In total, he spent five months in Qatar. Signing for a club would prove difficult given the Qatari leagues foreign player rules, not allowing Jack to sign for a team until he was 23. Instead, he trained with Al-Gharafas under-23s, managing a handful of appearances as a trialist.

He returned to less sunny shores in January 2018, when Kilmarnock’s fortunes had begun to drastically change.

“I just wanted to come back to Scotland basically,” Jack said. “Steve Clarke had just come back to Killie, so I thought it was a good opportunity for me.”

“There were a couple of other teams as well. Kilmarnock had the compensation rule with me. So, if a team from Scotland or England wanted to sign me they had to pay £200,000, so nobody was going to do that,” he laughed modestly.

It’s not too surprising to hear that he was attracting interest, even if his profile had gone somewhat off the radar. His inclusion on the bench against Aberdeen and Inverness had turned heads, but he was also in the first team squad for an October 2016 trip to Celtic Park – an experience he describes as “mental”.

“I think we’d played on the Thursday night, and it was at hom,” Jack explained. “Lee Clark [then Kilmarnock manager] came into the dressing room after the game and he was like that: ‘You’re coming in to train tomorrow with the first team, you’re missing school, and you’re going up on Saturday with the first team.’

“It was amazing. It’s a huge stadium. [Souleymane] Coulibaly scored that goal that day, and I was just freaking out.”

Jack’s journey has taken him from SFA Performance School, to Celtic Park, to Qatar, and back to playing reserve football for Kilmarnock – but he wouldn’t change any of it.

On his time at the Grange, he said: “You can see the boys like Harry Cochrane and all that coming through just now. You get over two hours football training a day, so it’s only going to benefit you and some of the stuff Andy Goldie does really helps. It improves you technically every day.”

Even though his time with Al-Gharafa was short-lived, he doesn’t regret it and even encouraged other youngsters to take the chance to go abroad.

“Playing with players like Sneijder every day, you don’t really get that here. I was meeting new people as well. It was just great, I loved it.

“Obviously, I tried, and it didn’t really work out for me,” he continued, “but I wouldn’t say it’s made me any worse a player. I definitely think it’s a good idea and if an opportunity like that comes up, you should definitely try it.”

So, what now for the one time Football Manager wonderkid? Back at Killie, he wants to force his way into Steve Clarke’s plans, but knows he has to impress reserve boss Andy Millen first.

“We’ve played three games in the reserve league so far - won two and drew one - so hopefully we’ll try and stay up the top of the table and try and win a few more games.

“Personally, I’d like to be challenging to get up with the first team, but you need to be starting every game for the reserve team if you want to be up there. So, playing for the reserves every week is probably my main aim.”

SFA Performance School Manager and Under-17s head coach Brian McLaughlin reckons Scotland are producing some of the most gifted youth players in all of Europe.

Speaking on the Official Scotland Podcast before the 17s recorded back-to-back victories over Russia in Spain this past week, McLaughlin discussed the importance of developing players at youth level to play the ‘Scotland way’.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any European nation that I’ve played [as head coach of the 17s] that are better technically than us.

“That includes Spain, Germany, Croatia, England and Italy – there’s none of them better technically than us.

“Where we’ve really tried to change our training is on our awareness and tactical work.

“When you come away with Scotland you don’t do any technical work.

“If I’ve got a Scotland squad for six days, I’m not going to make any one of those players technically better – it’s just not going to happen.

“We’re always trying to work on their awareness and tactics because the technique is there; our clubs are doing a fantastic job.

“I think where we do still lack is physicality. We’re definitely much later in catching up.

“We do recruit players for the future; we’re recruiting them for a game they’re going to play in three or four years from now.

“So, sometimes when we go on the pitch we are miles off it physically.”

McLaughlin, who had previously worked as Performance School Coach at Holyrood High School in Glasgow prior to taking charge of the programme, also talked about the success of the Performance Schools.

Now in its seventh year, the performance school programme is a unique innovation designed to get Scotland’s brightest young talent training more. Seven schools from regions across the country were selected to be part of the initiative, and players from clubs all across each region were invited to attend these schools. Training at the academy then becomes part of their daily timetable, before they report back to their club academies in the evening.

McLaughlin discussed how this system – which has helped produce the likes of Harry Cochrane and Billy Gilmour – has proven successful so far.

“Short term? Yeah it’s worked.

“We’ve had seven 16-year-olds make their debut, which is quite incredible. If you look at the last 25 years of Scottish football we haven’t had seven 16-year-olds make their debut.

“So, instant success has been really good, our national youth squads have certainly benefitted from it.”

‘What are they doing?

‘They look like Bambi on ice.’

‘I don’t understand, they could do that a few weeks ago.’

‘Why are we bothering, it looks like they have done no sport at all.’

These are just some of the comments that I have heard on the side lines of training sessions and matches over the last few years. Do you know what? At some point in time, both in their early years of growth and during puberty, all parents and coaches will have noticed physical and mental changes in the players that they are involved with.

Puberty is the most documented growth and development spurt but prior to that children will experience many mini growth spurts. If your child grows a few centimetres very quickly, you will undoubtedly watch them struggle to find their feet so to speak.

They will look uncoordinated, they may trip over the ball, the piece of skill they could do easily only a few weeks ago looks a distant memory. They may have lost some speed and their changes of direction suddenly look more like the QE2 turning.

There is no need to panic, they have probably just grown.

It will often take them a few weeks to retrain their brains and bodies to coordinate the movements once again to the height that they are now working from. It will soon come back together for them and it is important during this stage that both parents and coaches back off and do not shout and criticise them too much.

It can be difficult to watch as a parent, but patience and bags of encouragement and understanding is really important no matter how frustrated you may be feeling.

Going through puberty which can generally last for two to five years will have a much more significant impact on the development and performance of your child. It will be a long and bumpy ride and where possible it needs to be managed as effectively as possible.

Most girls will start puberty between 8-13 (average age around 12) and have their major growth spurt between 10-14.

Most boys will start puberty between 10-13 and continue to grow until around 16-17 years of age.

During these periods you will notice an increase in body size, hormones and muscle strength and a temporary decline in balance, skills and body control. In fact they may well just appear as clumsy.

This is just a temporary phase in your child’s development, with temporary being the key word.

Your child’s coach should be aware of these stages and once again it is vital that both parents and coaches remain positive and encouraging.

The more parents and coaches can understand and recognise this, the better the environment you will be able to create for your children playing.

Based on the above the best advice for parents would be:

  • Do not panic if your child suddenly looks clumsy

  • Do not start constantly yelling at them at this stage, no matter how frustrated you may be feeling

  • Speak to the coach - make sure they are aware of the situation.

  • Seek advice on the amount of training during puberty to help prevent overuse injuries

Where would Scottish football be without its grassroots? From the Scotland under 18 team that won the European Championship in ‘82 to the Lisbon Lions of 1967, a group of local lads all born within 30 miles of Celtic Park, every success owes so much to the nation’s local youth development systems.
To celebrate the history of the beautiful game, Dundee-based publisher, DC Thomson, has compiled a list of the greatest Scottish football memories, featuring 100 classic moments. The timeline has been carefully put together with contributions from fans and is already stirring up excitement amongst clubs and their supporters.
Beyond the Lisbon Lions and the win at the Euros, the piece features talking points such as the four Jacobs brothers playing together for Livingston having all come through the club’s youth system. There’s also some iconic goals from John Robertson, for Hearts against Hibs. Robbo played for Edina Hibs as a youth, but signed for Hearts as a senior and went on to haunt the Hibees with an impressive goal scoring record in the Edinburgh Derby.
Another highlight is Willie Miller, who played as a forward in his youth but switched to a centre back as a teenager thanks to advice from Teddy Scott. Miller went on to lead Aberdeen to multiple trophies, and was described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “the best penalty box defender in the world.”
Thanks to grassroots football and the talent that it has produced, memories such as these live on in the minds of Scottish football fans. Check out the visual below for some of the best moments from the timeline:
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