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Setting the Standard: The Rangers Scholarship


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Next in the STS series, is an excellent article written by AMMS (from RangersMedia) who explores the difficulties in rearing successful young players and how the results could be maximised.

 

http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/newsite/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=742&Itemid=2

 

BEGINS

 

My first job was an apprentice printer, it was a small place employing about 8 or so people at that time and I was their first ‘apprentice’. Times were hard then (sound familiar?) and rather than take me on I was employed through the government run Youth Training Scheme on the princely sum of Ã?£27.50 a week and Ã?£5 travelling expenses.

 

Part of how the YTS was sold to potential employees was that there would be college based training as well as on the job skills. This sounded good; rather than just being exploited slave labour I got 2 week stints at the Building and Printing College every month and more ScotVec modules than you could shake an inky rag at.

 

Eventually after a month or two my boss approached me and asked how I was enjoying college. The reality was I loved it, you didn’t start until 9am, it was a very relaxed atmosphere, and you got to ogle at the hairdressers in the College of Commerce across the road. However if truth be told, I wasn’t learning a whole lot about printing which was what I was supposed to be doing. Lots of theory and not a lot of practical was my diplomatic reply. My boss, who had spent his entire working life in the printing game paused for a moment and reflected on my reply and his slightly confusing words have remained with me until this day; ‘Aye son’, he ventured ‘theory is alright in theory but when you want to learn to swim sooner or later you need to get into the water’.

 

The training of young footballers seems to be a thing of great difficulty for Rangers recently. Part of that problem seems to have been our reluctance to move with the times. In this day of public/private partnerships, you have to wonder why Rangers (and other clubs) haven’t got a genuine tie-in with a local school. A residential aspect to youth development is common place on the continent where boys are schooled from 13 to 15 in conjunction with a club or FA. The acclaimed Clairefontaine centre outside Paris and the famous Ajax Academy all include ‘normal’ schooling as part of their curriculum; these people are children after all.

 

Curiously, a local school to Ibrox, Bellahouston Academy, is Scotland’s first ‘school for sporting excellence’. The school has over 130 pupils who are only there because of their sporting talent. These kids still get a full education but they also get access to specialist coaches, advice, conditioning and sports psychologists. Football isn’t currently one of the sports covered at the school - perhaps Rangers could consider helping to change that?

 

Engendering good habits, influencing technique and seeing at first hand the personalities, weaknesses and the strengths of these young players must be good for the players as well as the club. Tie it in to a trusted, local authority run school environment and you have the perfect ‘academy’ system for a fraction of the outlay running a residential school would cost.

 

If the kids are rounded, focused and aware of the different facets that make up a successful sportsman when they leave school, they might conceivably be in a better position to make the most of the opportunities that come their way later. ‘Specialist’ schools are becoming popular throughout Scotland, becoming centres of excellence in music, dance or sport is relatively prestigious and Rangers could assist this process whilst it is still in it’s infancy.

 

Once at the club however one thing that does seem to be clear is that if a young player isn’t getting a game regularly between the ages of 16 and 20 he is unlikely to make a genuine impact. Now roughly one in every generation seems able to do this currently, be it Durrant, Ferguson or maybe now John Fleck. However these guys are the exception, they were such prodigious talents that they couldn’t be ignored. But for the vast majority games is what they need.

 

Professional football is a trade and they can have many reserve, youth and bounce games but ultimately they need to learn their trade and they’ll need to play in competitive games to do that. Examples of this are all around us. Pedro Mendes had played 31 senior games by the age of 19, by the age of 20 Ross McCormack had only played 11. By the age of 19 Ally McCoist had played 57 times for St Johnstone, Rory Loy will turn 21 this year and has played about 6 games of first team football.

 

Now Mendes played his games for a team you’ve never heard of and McCoist, having been rejected by St Mirren, was learning his trade at the always unfashionable St Johnstone. Both McCormack and Loy on the other hand were both deemed good enough at 16 to be recruited by Rangers where they enjoyed the finest training facilities in the country, trained alongside some exceptional players and by some experienced coaches, so what’s gone wrong? Well to put it simply too much theory and not enough practical. Still not convinced, have a look at the current first team of any successful side and try and find a player who wasn’t playing regular football at senior level by the age of 19.

 

Getting our young players playing at a high level as early as possible can only be in everyone’s interest. If an 18 year old can’t hold his own in Division One he won’t make it at Rangers later. It also makes financial sense, if they aren’t deemed good enough for Rangers, and most won’t be, these boys will leave Rangers on free transfers with some first team experience. At least a player with 30 to 50 games at Division One level is worth something.

 

Ideally Rangers should consider formal or informal links with several clubs, an ideal ‘roster’ of clubs would include some Scandinavian clubs, perhaps a Dutch one, certainly some English ones, and maybe even an Italian or French club. None of these clubs would be in their top divisions obviously however many smaller clubs are looking for good players who are relatively cheap so free young players from the best club in Scotland might well be of interest to quite a few of them.

 

Without improvement in the young players at Ibrox it is folly to continue to invest in youth. Arguably, financially it would make more sense to save the money and take the best from Hibs, Hearts and Kilmarnock etc. However long term, transforming talented young players into professionals has to be Rangers goal, it makes sense on every level.

 

Young men literally schooled correctly, positively influenced at an early age, approaching a career as a professional footballer already knowing about diet and fitness and knowing they’ll be given opportunities at various professional levels during their time at Rangers must be the ultimate goal for the club.

 

:rfc:

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I'd really like to thank AMMS for this article.

 

A proper youth academy to complement the superb facilities at Murray Park is long overdue. The work done at Largs and Bellahouston Academy shows that a partnership of sorts could certainly be beneficial in the long term.

 

Again, investment/finance is an issue but I personally feel youth is a part of the club the vast majority of supporters are enthused about. As such, not only would we be able to attract investment from high net worth people, I reckon many other fans would help as it could be our kin that would be next to benefit.

 

Imagine a 'Davie Cooper' Scholarship scheme where 5 of our very best young players had their training and education funded every year. This could be extended in the future.

 

Make it happen.

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Just as a matter of interest are any of these idea's for improvement getting passed on to RFC or are they just voices shouting in the dark of internet?

Mr Murray said the people behind their little keyboards are offering no remedies so it would seem to me that all these idea's should be put into a dossier and passed on to Mr Murray or Mr Bain.

 

I have just two points. I personally don't think putting players abroad is a good idea due to the cultural and language barriers. I believe that the players should be using all their energy into the football side of things instead of taking a 16 year old and putting him into a completely foreign environment.

 

Secondly the Ajax academy was only placed as the 9th best in Holland in a study last year. It was in the 70's and 80's when no other Dutch teams scouted out with their region that it was so acclaimed. They are now busy trying to revamp it.

 

A well written piece though and certainly the road we should be looking to go down.:rfc:

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Mate,

 

After this series of articles is finished, I intend writing a full report.

 

The report will contain the articles themselves and the background of the authors as well as any interesting comments from each article threads. No faceless contributors here.

 

At this point, the report will be presented to various people - the club chairman, the fan organisations, RSCs and high-net worth supporters. Obviously it will also be posted on the web and we'd urge everyone to send it on to friends, colleagues, contacts etc.

 

Depending on the reaction, we can then organise further debate via meetings of interested people which will help us develop the ideas to a greater level of detail.

 

I'm not saying the project will work but it's rather more constructive than sniping.

 

I'd urge everyone to get involved.

 

:)

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Mate,

 

After this series of articles is finished, I intend writing a full report.

 

The report will contain the articles themselves and the background of the authors as well as any interesting comments from each article threads. No faceless contributors here.

 

At this point, the report will be presented to various people - the club chairman, the fan organisations, RSCs and high-net worth supporters. Obviously it will also be posted on the web and we'd urge everyone to send it on to friends, colleagues, contacts etc.

 

Depending on the reaction, we can then organise further debate via meetings of interested people which will help us develop the ideas to a greater level of detail.

 

I'm not saying the project will work but it's rather more constructive than sniping.

 

I'd urge everyone to get involved.

 

:)

 

Thanks Frankie i just wondered as some of the idea's must be worth rangers having a look at.

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Thanks Frankie i just wondered as some of the idea's must be worth rangers having a look at.

 

If Rangers are not already looking at this kind of thing then I think you can safely take it that it will never happen. If they are and it still hasn't happened then I think you can again take it that it will never happen.

 

Perhaps you assuming new ownership in the near future?:)

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If Rangers are not already looking at this kind of thing then I think you can safely take it that it will never happen. If they are and it still hasn't happened then I think you can again take it that it will never happen.

 

Perhaps you assuming new ownership in the near future?:)

 

I just live in false hope, i have become immune to the pain of disappointment.:)

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In this time of financial hardship how would the funding of such a scheme, say in partnership with Bellahouston Academy, be funded? Long term it could well be an earner for the club if we could start realising fees for youths not deemed good enough for the club. But as that has not been happening with the players coming out of MP I don't see how this scheme might change that with the likes of Bain still at the club.

 

As has been pointed out only really Ferguson, Hutton and now Fleck in recent times have come straight from the youths into the first team. Unless they are an exceptional talent, the young players will have to go out on loan at a lower level first and that certainly appears to be something we have looked at this year if you consider Loy, Furman, Lennon, Shinnie, Lowing and more.

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In this time of financial hardship how would the funding of such a scheme, say in partnership with Bellahouston Academy, be funded? Long term it could well be an earner for the club if we could start realising fees for youths not deemed good enough for the club. But as that has not been happening with the players coming out of MP I don't see how this scheme might change that with the likes of Bain still at the club.

 

As has been pointed out only really Ferguson, Hutton and now Fleck in recent times have come straight from the youths into the first team. Unless they are an exceptional talent, the young players will have to go out on loan at a lower level first and that certainly appears to be something we have looked at this year if you consider Loy, Furman, Lennon, Shinnie, Lowing and more.

 

Did Ferguson not go to Blackburn rovers on loan for 18 months.:)

 

Surely the school part of it would be funded by the state as the kids education is compulsory. The coaching and living in part would be covered by Rangers We already have these coaches in place so the only extra costs would be the live in accommodation. Or am i thinking to simplistic? Hopefully these costs would be payed for by a successful player flow brining in money.

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