Lowland League side Berwick Rangers and juvenile club Berwick Juniors have agreed an ambitious new partnership designed to give the area’s young talent a pathway to the senior game.
The youth outfit have adopted the name Berwick Rangers Juniors as part of the plans and will also adopt the Berwick Rangers badge, retaining black and gold as their familiar club colours.
Berwick Rangers Juniors will use the new identity across all social media and marketing as links are strengthened.
Dave Buglass, Berwick Rangers director, said: “The club have had ties to the Juniors in the past, but they weren’t very strong.
“We felt it was only right to strengthen our connection between the two of us and create the partnership.”
A new board of directors was appointed at Berwick Rangers in January, as the club adjusts to life outside of the SPFL, and one of the key focuses has been on improving the flow of local players to the first team.
Officials from both Berwick Rangers and the Juniors had held several encouraging talks which led to the partnership being formed.
Berwick Rangers Juniors will now have access to some of the Wee Gers’ facilities as part of their agreement. The Juniors teams will be able to use the pitches at Shielfield Park, Old Shielfield and Ivinson.
Club officials, coaches and volunteers will also be able to use meeting rooms and recreational space for fundraising events at Shielfield Park, which will be a major help to the Juniors.
“One of my aims with the partnership is to see more children through the gates on a Saturday,” Dave added. “We want to engage with our community, and this is definitely a great chance to do that with Juniors players having the chance to be ball boys and girls and come down with their parents to support the team.
“We train at Edinburgh University and most of our players are based in Edinburgh and the East Lothian area, so with the partnership we aim to have a couple more local lads in the first team squad in the near future.
“The most important thing is turning the kids into good people, giving them the social skills and communication skills that allow them to go on and have a good life.
“Secondly, if they are really good footballers, we are able to give them a pathway to get to the Berwick Rangers first team or even just keeping them playing football for as long as possible.
“We need to continue to tell our story positively on social media and as more people see how the club is becoming more professional more people will pay attention and be interested in Berwick Rangers. We have just launched a Berwick Rangers podcast, Let It BRFC, and there are lots of great initiatives underway.”
Berwick Rangers also want to give all the Juniors coaches the chance to enhance their experience, starting with a new coach in-service programme.
This will come in the form of online sessions which will be launched on June 10 by former Berwick Juniors and current St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig, who will give the coaches an insight into his playing career and his first steps into the world of coaching.
Craig is planning to set-up further calls with fellow professional players as special guests who can talk to the coaches about their experience within the game and support coach development for the Juniors volunteers.
The Borderers are not only helping the Juniors on the playing side but will also provide advice on the way the Juniors are run off the pitch in order to maximise the club’s growth.
This will come in the form of the board of directors lending their expertise to the Juniors with marketing, communications and applying for grants.
The board of directors will also meet up with the Juniors committee every three months to track the progress made as a result of the partnership.
Dave added: “The Juniors will get the chance to make use of the great club facilities, use of our communications and marketing experience and our experience and network of coaching education.
“For Berwick Rangers, it completes our pathway to the first team and allows us to engage even more with the community.
“We definitely view this as a long-term partnership. We recently had a community day and the Juniors played an intrinsic role in that, with the crowd total reaching just under 600 fans when we were averaging over 300 at the start of the season.
“The good thing is these are parents and children who are all from the town, so more people will be speaking about the club and spreading the word of what we are doing.”