With the youth football season fast approaching and pre season preparations coming to a close, Youth Football Scotland was fortunate in getting the chance of speaking with Whitecraigs AFC president Dean Sockalingum and under-16 midfielder Reiss Munro. The club have only been in existence for a year now and have already seen interest from two of Europe's top clubs.
"We are open to absolutely everyone, we are still keen to develop some of the young talent out there, we have some exciting young players in our teams and have had some major clubs show an interest, Arsenal have been involved and actually signed one of our boys. Portuguese club Porto have also taken an interest in one of our lads, so it is really exciting that there is some real potential talent."
The interest that has been shown by Porto has led to some unexpected benefits for the South Glasgow based club as Dean was able to reveal “We have a big event at the end of the season, we have developed a good relationship with Porto and they have invited us over in the Summer, so we are taking a couple of sides over to take part in a youth tournament in May. “It is a mini tournament and we will play their youth side, The Porto Dragon’s, it will be a fantastic experience for all of us.”Club president Dean Sockalingum explained the beginnings of the side and the great strides made since."
"Our club was formed to give kids who had never played structured football a chance, so we started with six kids and asked them all to bring a friend along with them, we then had 12 and have now grown to 145 across all the age groups and they are a great bunch of lads," Sockalingum said.
"They began as a mismatch of boys that had never met, lost their first six or seven matches then going unbeaten in their last six or seven."
His favourite memory of that first season was fondly remembered. "My highlight would be winning our first match, that was a real big thing for us, the boy’s had not played with each other or in a league as I’ve already said, they then started to get it together, stopped leaking goals, found belief and then competed," he said. "The stuff we were working on in training actually worked well when it was put together, so that was a real standout moment for me."
Looking to the season ahead “pre season has went really well for us and the club has blossomed, we have brought in about 24 players overall and about seven boys in the under-16s, so we feel that we have brought added strength to the club. "The boys are just back and have really worked hard in the pre season and they are now raring to go and ready for their first match this weekend."
Whitecraigs ambitions have risen since forming last year and they are now looking for further improvement, Dean explained that “our aim as a club is for everyone to develop further as players and finish somewhere from mid table and above, getting a wee cup run would be fantastic too. The players need to see their development in terms of personal goals that they have set for themselves, when this comes to fruition, they need to play much more as a team and build on last year.”
Whitecraigs midfielder Reiss Munro spoke about his ambitions for the club this season. He said: "We are aiming to get a good run of wins and try and finish somewhere reasonable in the league, it is a very well bonded side that gets along really well together and we now know the score.” Reiss continued to explain how the team gets on well away from the pitch. "We all like to keep in contact through social media when not around each other and some of the team now know each other away from training, I find being in the side fun, entertaining and I’ve made loads of new friends since joining."