Features & Blogs (122)
Sean Selkirk looks into the Train Like a Pro project being run by Ross County, offering aspiring players a chance to experience a day in a footballer's life.
Ross County are doing wonders in their youth department in the Highlands and are doing everything they can to develop young players in Dingwall and the surrounding towns and villages. They have a fabulous football academy at their disposal and put it to very good use when it comes to reaching out to the community.
One thing that sets Ross County apart from their Highland rivals Inverness is their initiative run in the holidays called Train Like a Pro. It gives approximately 50 young players an exciting insight in to a normal day at the club for their heroes.
Train Like a Pro runs in the school holidays over three days in the Easter and October holidays but over the course of the week in the summer. Not only is this beneficial for the children but also for parents. It normally runs from 9am - 6pm which is perfect for childcare as they can get dropped off first thing in the morning and picked up on the way home from work knowing their kids are in the capable hands of Ross County youth coaches.
At Train Like a Pro, youngsters receive six hours of football based activity instructed by the excellent coaches at the club. This includes skills and drills to improve passing and small sided games. The scheme incorporates other sports too, with "FootGolf" and football rounders. Also included are quizzes with the coaches which can be used as a little break.
Included in the package of Train Like a Pro are meals, hoping to save parents some money. Of course all meals provided are nice and healthy with plenty fruit and vegetables being provided.
Train Like a Pro is one of many community based activities Ross County hold at their state of the art Highland Football Academy. It shows what wonderful facilities the club has available to them, evidenced by the SPFL Development side’s place at the top of the table. And, further down the ladder, Ross County are seeing off local rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle at most age groups as well as competing internationally with success.
Youth players are also sniffing around the first team with the likes of Greg Morrison and Tony Dingwall being handed first team caps in recent seasons which shows that the Staggies have a fantastic youth set up here in the Highlands.
Ethan Hamilton (Manchester United) – A long-term servant to Hutchison Vale, the Edinburgh-born midfielder signed a deal with the Manchester giants in October 2014. Keen to focus on his studies, Hamiton turned down offers from Celtic and Aberdeen, before eventually making his way to the Red Devils. It can certainly be hoped that he can follow the same successful career path that fellow Scotsman, Darren Fletcher followed, a former product of the prestigious United academy and also from Edinburgh. A tall, two-footed player, Hamilton has represented Scotland at various youth levels, and looks to become an established member of United’s academy side.
Jack Hendry (Wigan) – After a handful of first-team games for Partick Thistle, the Glasgow-born defender signed for the English Championship side in the summer of 2015 after fending off interest from Everton. After a couple of appearances in the cups, Hendry, who spent most of the season in the academy, went on loan to League One side Shrewsbury Town, where he played a total of 6 times. It remains to be seen whether or not he can become a mainstay in the Latics’ side this season, but Hendry will be sure to finally get his first-team chances at some point throughout the campaign.
Charlie Gilmour (Arsenal) – A solid, technically excellent holding midfielder. Despite being born south of the border, Charlie's links to Scotland are strong through father Ian Gilmour. After spending many years in the nearby Hale End academy, Gilmour signed scholarship terms with Arsenal in 2015, who spotted him at the age of six after taking part in a youth tournament. After making his debut for Scotland's Under 15 side in a fine victory over Italy, Gilmour was lured by England at Under 17 level. He has since, opted to return to the Scotland fold. With five academy appearances under his belt last season, the midfielder looks set to establish himself more regularly in the new season.
Dominic Hyam (Reading) – Born in Fife, the central defender has one value that can perhaps be undervalued in defenders in this country, a willingness, and ability to play the ball from the back. Scotland under 21 manager Ricky Sbragia has sung his praises in the past, comparing him to former Manchester United defender Johnny Evans. Hyam still has a way to go until he can establish himself at The Royals, enjoying loan spells at the lower leagues down south. With a new deal agreed with the club in the summer, it could be a promising sign for Hyam, who is a regular in the Scotland under 21 side.
Jack Ruddy (Bury) – Ruddy has quite an extraordinary career-path so far compared to most 18-year-old players. Glasgow-born, he spent most of his younger years on the books at local side Rangers. At the age of 10, Ruddy and his family moved to Spain, where he played for Real Murcia at youth level after impressing for nearby side Torre Pacheco. In 2014, Ruddy found his way back to Britain and signed for Bury FC, where he made one appearance last year at just 17 years of age. Having represented Scotland at under 17 level, the six foot five goalkeeper might have to go out on loan to get regular chances this season.
As Celtic prepare to play Hamilton Academical in the Quarter Final of the The Little Big Shot Scottish Youth Cup, defender Kieran Tierney insists they’re out to win it.
The 17 year old made his comeback from a broken ankle in Monday night’s 2-0 win over Motherwell and says preparations are going well.
“It was fantastic to get the first half under my belt and get the win in tricky conditions. From now until the end of the season I’m focused on playing as much as I can, and that starts with the Under 20’s. We’ve played Hamilton a few times and I’m confident if we play the way we can then we’ll progress to the semi final.”
After making his debut in Celtic’s 6-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in a pre season friendly, a series of impressive performances saw him included in Ronny Deila’s eighteen man squad for their Europa League clash with Dinamo Zagreb.
Speaking in the build up to Thursday’s match, Tierney commented:
“It was brilliant to be part of the squad for that game, travelling and training with the first team for such an important fixture was an incredible experience. It was a really intense game and showed me the amount of work required to play at that level.”
It has been these performances which have helped the current SPFL Development League Champions keep in touch with second place Accies and Aberdeen, who sit top of the pile with nine games remaining.
Celtic have seen off Motherwell and Dundee United on the road to the Quarter Final, winning 2-0 and 3-0 respectively. Winning four of their last five league matches means Celtic are the form team heading into this tie against a strong Accies side who put eight past Falkirk last week, the first time any team has done so far this campaign.
Should Stevie Frail’s young Hoops with their three league matches in hand, they will go a point ahead of Guillaume Beuzelin’s Accies side, with a trip to New Douglas Park still to come.
With teammates Liam Henderson, Calum Waters and Paul McMullan currently away on international duty with Scotland Under 19’s, Tierney said:
“It’s great to see the boys get international recognition, and of course it’s an extra incentive to do well. We’ve all been supporting them and it’s great that Calum and Paul will hopefully be back in time and added to the squad for Thursday.”
Tierney became a YouTube sensation in October last year after he scored this sensational 90 yard goal against Hearts, a clip that has since amassed 125,000 views.
Celtic host Hamilton Accies on Thursday night at Cappielow, Kick off is 7pm.