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SFA presents revamped vision for youth development in Scotland

SFA presents revamped vision for youth development in Scotland
By PA Sport

21/01/2016 at 18:57Updated 21/01/2016 at 19:07

Brian McClair revealed his "simple" ideas to aid youth development of the Scottish game have been viewed as "radical" by some, following talks involving youth team bosses and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Brian McClair revealed his "simple" ideas to aid youth development of the Scottish game have been viewed as "radical" by some, following talks involving youth team bosses and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Scottish Football Association performance director presented the governing body's revamped vision for Scotland's young footballers along with chief executive Stewart Regan and Scotland boss Gordon Strachan.

The proposals include a "refinement" of the number of players in the SFA's Club Academy Scotland and reduction of centrally-funded teams. There are currently more than 2,300 players in 30 clubs.

The SFA also announced "more provision" for the seven regional academies and consultation with clubs over a draft loan system between Ladbrokes Premiership and Championship clubs.

It said a "working group will be convened to discuss the proposals in more detail and ensure collaboration between all constituent areas of the game".

After meeting officials of the Club Academy teams plus Sturgeon and Sports Minister Jamie Hepburn, McClair said: "The most important thing for me is that we all agree that we need to improve and that any future plans should put the development of the young player at the heart of everything we do.

"The principle is very clear and is founded on hard work on the pitch and off it. Interestingly, when I spoke to the Professional Game Board at the end of last year to share some of the ideas, the one word that came back was 'radical'. Sometimes the most radical changes are also the most simple.

"There is a lot of good work under way with the performance schools and with more outcome-focused investment in CAS but we need to address why our players stop developing at under-21 level and what the barriers are to playing regular football at the critical stage of development."

Strachan added: "I am Scotland national coach but I am also a father and grandfather and I care passionately about the state of our game and the future of our game.

"We need to get back to producing exciting players again, players who can be relied upon to start for their clubs at an earlier age, players who will then become more experienced and better prepared when it comes to international football.

"We need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to assessing where we are, where we want to be and how we get there. Brian and I were fortunate enough to play for top teams in Scotland and England and represent our country at major tournaments but the work was put in way before either of us made our first-team debuts."

Sturgeon said: "I welcome these proposals and we will work closely with the Scottish FA and SPFL to get Scottish football to where we all want it to be.

"We recognise football can be a powerful force for good and welcome the Scottish FA commitment to help deliver wider benefits to help improve health and well-being in our communities."

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