Former graduates from Hearts and Falkirk welcome latest intake to Scottish FA Performance School
The next batch of potential future Scottish football stars have been given a glimpse of what could be in store with hard work and dedication as they enrolled in the Scottish FA Performance School.
The 47 boys and girls from across Scotland were welcomed into the programme at Oriam, Scotland’s new Sports Performance Centre, by two recent graduates of the programme and Scotland international John McGinn.
Heart of Midlothian's Aaron Reid and Falkirk's Johnny Mitchell shared their experiences as part of the first group to graduate from the programme - among 15 graduates to have secured professional contracts - whilst 21-year-old Hibernian player McGinn talked about his journey in to the Scotland national team.
The new pupils also got a sneak preview of Oriam - the Sports Performance Centre which will form a key part of the Scottish FA’s performance strategy when it opens at the end of this month,
The centre will provide world-class facilities and support services for the Scotland national teams and performance programme, whilst also being available to a range of other sports, including rugby, athletics, cricket, hockey, netball and shinty.
The Scottish FA Performance School programme, which launched in 2012, takes the most talented under-12s players - boys and girls - into seven regional schools, aiming to enhance their technical skills at a key stage of their development, with football education incorporated in to their school curriculum.
Each school has their own SFA-appointed coach, providing pupils with a minimum of five extra coaching sessions a week, focusing on skills development. Over a four-year period, this will provide the most talented young footballers throughout the country with an extra 800 sessions.
Scottish FA Performance Development Manager, Neil Mackintosh, said: “The young players here today have been given a fantastic opportunity, and they have heard how important it is to work hard and keep your goal in mind over the next four years and beyond.
“John spoke about his route into the Scotland squad and the challenges he overcame to get to where he is now. Aaron has suffered a dislocated knee, amongst other injuries, while Johnny wasn’t selected for the first year of the programme in 2012, but we kept an eye on his progress and brought him in as he entered second year.
“Players will develop at different ages and stages and have different obstacles to navigate, but the main philosophy of the Performance School environment is about developing your skills on an individual basis – and enjoying the experience along the way.
“The feedback and statistics from the programme have been very positive over the last four years. It was a proud moment to see the first group of pupils graduate this year at an event at the William Hill Scottish Cup Final, and even better that 15 of them have gone on to secure professional contracts.”
Image courtesy of ScottishFA.co.uk