Newcraighall Leith Vics youth football club are just one of many benefactors of national media exposure thanks to the work and partnership established with Youth Football Scotland.
The initiative allocates clubs based all over Scotland with personal journalists who look to enhance the reputation of the teams and bring a professionalism to grassroots football coverage.
Each voluntary journalist will work within their local area providing match reports, club news features and multimedia content via various social media platforms and through the club websites.
I am a new member of the Youth Football Scotland team and recently had the privilege of attending a well organised, committed training session for Newcraighall Leith Vics’ very impressive 2001 side.
John Daly, the manager of this growing group of talent has nothing but praise for his players and is happy they are now getting the recognition they deserve after a lack of coverage of the team’s success last season, despite them winning 5 titles.
“We had a cracking season last year for a group who hadn’t really won anything in their life. I have known the kids since they were 4-year-old, last year put us on the map and this year we hope to push on even further. Obviously last season we were followed in the finals, but only 4 other games were covered throughout the league. The boys have got a great winning mentality. Throughout their footballing years they’ve rarely lost and we hope that will continue.”
Daly also added, “In the last few years the coverage for youth football has improved and it looks like what Youth Football Scotland are doing now, will take it to the next level of exposure. You will always get complaints asking why areas haven’t been covered but you can’t go everywhere.”
This season has seen the involvement of former Raith Rovers, Hearts and Hamilton coach Ian Fergus to the 2001 side. Fergus is hopeful that with help from YFS, the small club can become a major power in youth football.
“Newcraighall is an unfancied club, it’s not like Tynecastle, Hutchie Vale or Salvesen, massive clubs as the years have gone by. The majority of the players come from the catchment area and not from afar so it is a good achievement to have done what they done last season. It will be nice to see the team with a following like these bigger clubs, on the back of this programme.”
Fergus believes greatly in the ethos of developing young players’ ability as opposed to being adamant on winning, hoping they can emulate some of the names he has previously coached such as Kevin McHattie, Billy King and Stefan Scougall.
“I haven’t actually got a great track record of winning cups but in terms of taking players to pro-youth, that is where they have excelled. I see possibilities in this team and want to do the same I have done previously. The varied physicality of the game at under 14s and 15s level is something that can’t be helped but as it evens out as they get older, your brain tells you where to go and how to play a yard ahead of the game, that’s what I need to teach them.”
When mentioning the ambitions of Youth Football Scotland, Fergus furthered praised their efforts and insisted we need to pay as much attention to grassroots football as possible.
“Grassroots football is getting forgotten about. All players come from grassroots, people forget that when they move on but they have learned and been nurtured throughout their youth. I like grassroots being covered.”
It was a pleasant surprise to see how much quality was on show during the training session I attended. Football played with pure enthusiasm and with the right mentality from both players and coaches.