Grassroots clubs from across Scotland visited Hampden Park yesterday for the Scottish FA’s Club Together conference.
Scotland legend and UEFA Technical Director Andy Roxburgh and Scottish FA CEO Stewart Regan were among a host of guest speakers imparting their insight on how to nurture the grassroots game.
“If we don’t have healthy grassroots, then top level of game in general suffers,” Roxburgh said.
“We wouldn’t have enough fans, referees or administrators.
“It would also mean we leave development at the top level to chance. We would just cross our fingers and hope the next superstars come from the streets.
“But clearly now, with the changing of environment, that is highly unlikely.
“So, like in football, you can park the bus or take the initiative. In the case of grassroots football we have to take the initiative and this is what is happening here in Scotland.
“The Scottish FA’s grassroots programme is well known to us at UEFA, it is doing a really good job.”
Clubs were invited to listen to expert knowledge from community clubs such as Stenhousemuir and Spartans, facility development and funding specialists from sportscotland and the Scottish FA, Positive Coaching Scotland managers and pioneering football programme founders.
“I think events like today are important because it brings clubs together,” Roxburgh added. “They, hopefully, will realise that the Scottish FA cares about what they are doing.
“This relationship between the Scottish FA and the grassroots clubs is vital. It is an on-going relationship because the Scottish FA has teams across the country in the field.
“When I was at the Scottish FA I employed Jim Fleeting who has been working flat out for 20 years and there has been an enormous amount of work done.
“Once you have programmes in place, you have the chance to refine it and implement new philosophies.”
Stewart Regan provided a presentation on the objectives of the Scottish FA within the grassroots game.
He said: “Grassroots is the bedrock of football development in Scotland.
“Every player who goes on to represent his or her country starts off as a grassroots player and therefore the investment in time and energy at grassroots builds towards future success.
“It is important to get everybody working together in the same way and to work out how to develop young players into stars of the future.
“In our Scotland United strategy one of the key pillars is the Strong Quality Growth area.
“Within that we are working on implementing a single plan for the whole of the non-professional game which looks at developing stronger clubs, stronger players, stronger coaches, stronger volunteers, stronger referees and working out how we can mobilise the entire volunteer force across Scotland into delivering on those objectives.
“Running in parallel with that, we need better facilities which means working in collaboration with local authorities and with the Scottish Government to try and ensure that we give clubs and associations the opportunity to play on the right pitches.
“Conferences like to today are aimed at providing support to all the clubs and associations.”
Cameron Watt, the recently appointed Scottish FA facilities manager, said: “I think it is vital we get the chance to speak to clubs in formats like this rather than just on an individual basis.
“Attendees have had the chance to speak to representatives from sportscotland and listened to clubs who have gone through the journey before where they have improved their facility.
“Good facilities are vital for football to develop in Scotland.”