The East Fife Youth Academy has been up and running for two years now after having previously been known as the East Fife Junior Supporters Club, the Academy aims to produce and widen children’s participation in sport and at the same time develop life and social skills, healthy living and wellbeing, through their community football programmes. The football club has the dream of being one of Scotland’s best community club’s by 2020, and have taken another step closer towards that goal with the introduction of their new ‘Wee Fifer’s’ community programme.
The programme aims to give an early introduction for nursery and primary one kids into a healthy lifestyle as they participate in sport, and also compliments Education Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, the club have been able to fund this project thanks partly to a community initiative award from the Scottish Football Partnership. Youth Football Scotland spoke to Lorna McAuley, Head of the Academy and Community Development worker about the youth academy and the recent developments at the club.
Lorna said of the academy: “The academy’s aim is to provide quality training in a fun, friendly safe environment allowing participants from all over the community to take part.” And of her own participation she went on “I got involved with the academy as a parent of two boys who were playing with the club. “Over my time there the role developed until I was asked to become the head of the academy.”
On the success and popularity of the Youth Academy in the Methil area “We are a popular choice by the local community, with over 300 members in our small area. “Parents are keen to volunteer and take up opportunities within the club to coach and offer admin support. “The academy is going from strength to strength all the time, in the past 18 months we have developed a full community programme and doubled the amount of children we work with a regular basis.”
The community Initiative award allows the academy to provide cost free sessions and introduce local families to the environment of the football club, Lorna went on “The SFP grant allows us to start the Wee Fifers programme and engage with approximately 1000 children aged between 3-6 in partnership with active schools nurseries and P1, children will be given free training as costs are covered from the funding. “It also allows us to introduce East Fife to the children and their families as the funding covers mini tournaments at the stadium.”
“The Wee fifers programme has been designed to try and capture children’s interest in physical activity from a very early age. “We will be engaging with children aged between 3-6 for blocks of five weeks, then they will be encouraged to take up a free opportunity to take part in regular classes for another four weeks. “We hope that by gaining their interest early we will keep them interested in sport throughout their lives.”
On the future of the academy, Lorna has some interesting ideas on the direction she would like to see the youth academy take “I would like to see the academy expand even further with more community activity than we have managed so far. “There are many avenues we still have to explore. “Football is a very powerful tool to capture people’s attention and can be used in many great ways. “We have plans to run a High School programme engaging with children aged 14-16 with attendance issues.”