“There is no better time for a youth player to come in and shine,” according to Beith Juniors gaffer Bryan Young, as he spoke to YFS about the new Under-20s Development League for the west of Scotland.
The new format will come into force next season, following the approval of plans for a new West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) that will merge into the SPFL pyramid system.
The WoSFL will join the sixth-tier, alongside the existing East of Scotland Football League and South of Scotland Football League. The establishing of the league is the dawn of a new era for football in the west of Scotland and opens the door to more opportunities for youth players.
It was announced on the April 14 that 67 of the 68 clubs who applied to be part of the WoSFL had been reviewed and accepted.
63 of these clubs had been the members of the West Region Junior Football Association (WRJFA) and after several months of voting and discussions between the clubs they felt that joining the SPFL at the sixth-tier was the best way forward for all clubs at junior level.
“For Beith as a club, there was a lot of thought put in to it to be honest with you,” Bryan said, speaking on the decision from the Juniors side to join the SPFL set-up.
“For me personally coming into the role such a short time ago and being my first job, it was quite exciting and quite frustrating at the same time because there is so many unknowns at the moment, but if I was to answer it I think it’s a real positive for Scottish football as a whole.”
Previously, junior football has been the starting point for many younger players’ careers and has given them the experience that is needed of playing in a first team consistently. It was also a platform for younger players to be scouted and be picked-up by professional clubs.
Bryan agreed, adding: “I think this new u20s league is very exciting, if it’s done the way it should be done. With the whole Covid-19 situation, money is going to be tight for these clubs, there is no better time for a youth player to come and shine.”
The creation of the Development League has seen youth teams begin to affiliate with new WoSFL members and create development teams to allow younger players a new pathway to the first team.
Auchinleck Talbot, a team who have dominated junior football for many years, winning countless trophies, have recently affiliated with Crosshouse 2004s to create an U17s side.
A statement on the ‘ATFC Youth Academy’ Facebook page said: “We are delighted to announce that we will have a new U17s team in the academy. Crosshouse 2004s have agreed to move to play under our banner as Auchinleck Talbot u17’s. This is a great addition to the academy as we look to strengthen the pathway towards the new West Development League & hopefully to the first team”.
Bryan, only entering his second season as The Cabes’ manager, also believes in giving youth a chance: “The best advice I could give any young player is, just because someone tells you you’re not good enough that doesn’t mean you aren’t.”
The gaffer played almost his full career in junior football, spending 12 seasons at Auchinleck Talbot. He won five Scottish Junior Cups in that time, making him one of the most decorated players in Junior football.
Having previously coached Johnstone Burgh under-21s and Johnstone Burgh 09s, he still coaches Pollok 09’s as well as managing Beith.
“People told me I was too small, but you need to overcome it and adapt your game. At Auchinleck I done my first six months grinding it out, being on the bench to try and prove myself, it was really difficult.
“Self-belief is one of my main messages. It doesn’t matter what people say, if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will.”