East Stirlingshire has launched a search for the club’s stars of the future.
Shire will enter a team next season in the SPFL’s under-20 league and coaches are now busy trying to recruit young kids from the local area to fill the places in the squad.
The decision to enter a side in the new league was taken in the hope that Shire might be able to introduce more players from the Forth Valley into their first team in the next couple of years.
According to club secretary, Tadek Kopszywa, it is a chance for youngsters who think they are good enough to shine.
“We have always been looking at ways of getting young, local lads involved in the club who might be potential recruits for the first team,” he said. “We feel the creation of this league may be the chance to do that.
“Last season we opted to go with reserves but the chaotic start to the league after the merger in the summer led to a number of problems which we never properly resolved. By the end of the season our reserves comprised mainly of trialists and first team players who were not starting on a Saturday.”
The club says the creation of an under-20 league gives Shire the chance to do things differently. The rules will be broadly similar to the under-20 league operated by the old SPL with a limit on the number of players over the age of 20 and a cap on trialists.
“We will only be allowed two trialists in any one match and only five players over the age of 20 will be able to participate,” said the club secretary. “That means we will have to go about things differently.
“Essentially we are looking to sign around a dozen young players between 17 and 19, as many of them as possible from the local area. There won’t be any great reward for them other than the chance to show what they can do and perhaps win a first team contract over the next year or so.”
The club is sending out a warning, though, that players selected will be the best of those available. The Shire secretary says Head Coach Craig Tully will be putting his own scouting and coaching team in place and he will be demanding high standards.
“There are so many young players out there now and they all genuinely believe they have what it takes to progress to the senior game,” said Kopszywa. “But experience teaches you that there are only a limited number of people out there who have the ability.
“People also don’t realise sometimes just how high the standard of competition is. That means we will only be selecting the very best of the players we can find who want to take this opportunity.”
Shire are hoping it will generate a core group of young, local players who will progress to the first team given time.