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Young community a focus for Killie

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Young supporters hold the key to the future of football in our country, and that is no different with Kilmarnock FC.

Killie are a massive influence towards children in their local area, having numerous community football schemes in order to keep young fans connected with the club.

Youth Football Scotland spoke to Youth and Community Education Officer at Kilmarnock FC, Brian Sproul, about the opportunities out there for kids in the area.

"We are very active in the community through schools, we work with the council, we also have summer programmes, which are generally well attended," said Sproul.

"The kids come in from 12-3.30 for older age groups. From one until two we have the Mini Kickers sessions. All you need to do is sign up, come along and its ten pounds for the three and a half hours, the coaches look over them and it is a very relaxed few hours.

"The website give details about how to sign up, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy to come into the club and see what it’s all about, and the kids can just turn up on the day and take part."

Killie have received a helping hand in organising all of this, and Sproul felt that the benefits from this support is hugely important.

"The Scottish FA are very supportive of everything that we do at the club, we benefit greatly on the pro youth side, as many of our kids are in the performance schools, which have been very successful so far," Sproul said. 

The fans are offered a unique ‘Play on the Pitch’ programme, where they can emulate their favourite Kilmarnock stars and grace the turf of Rugby Park.

"I personally think it is massive that the community can see and then come in and play on the pitch, for young kids to come in on a daily basis and say ‘I played and scored goals into the big net’, it is a massive boost for them," he said.

"Also for our pro youth teams to come and play here, as well as visiting teams, who praise the pitch, it is a big positive for everybody."

The idea began in February, when Killie set up a number of community teams. It now features 200 budding young footballers from the area.

There is a massive emphasis on building relationships between the club and its fans. Sproul touched on this: “It allows the club to have an affinity with the kids. That affinity grows as they get older, they spread the word, basically making them club ambassadors.” he said.

“We are hoping it stops them from going up the motorway to the other clubs in the Glasgow area. It gives up hope to produce local players for the club, and on top of that, supporters for the future.”

Other clubs can certainly learn lessons from this community scheme, and allow the supporters of tomorrow to live a unique experience today.

Gregor Kerr | YFS South East Region Journalist
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