Two former Academy players from Falkirk reached the final stages of their college football – or should that be soccer – season.
Polmont’s Ross Alexander, and Jordan Burns from Bo’ness reached the final four of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Soccer Championship with their team, the Grand View University Vikings of Iowa.
Alexander, who progressed through the youth ranks at Falkirk FC then joined St Johnstone FC for a year before going to USA in 2011, was the team captain and has led his side to four consecutive league titles, but just missed out on the opportunity to graduate as a national champion last month.
His Grand View University Vikings reached the NAIA National Tournament, which was held in Florida. They reached the quarter finals before being defeated by eventual champions Davenport, from Michigan, 4-0.
All was not lost for the Polmont player though. He was also named as the Midwest Collegiate Conference Player of the Year in November and added that accolade to a string of career honours picked up during his four year college career.
Burns joined his former team-mate in 2013 and has one more year left in Iowa before graduating.
The former Stenhousemuir and Bo’ness player was in sparkling form for the GVU Vikings this season and his goal haul has been a contributing factor in the team going all the way this year.
Both players are a product of Stirling-based, Sporting Futures USA programme, for talented young footballers who are released by Scottish senior clubs.
The owner of Sporting Futures USA, David Binnie, said: “Both Jordan and Ross are terrific examples of the success young Scottish footballers can have if they are prepared to spread their wings and take up the opportunities that lie abroad in the United States Collegiate system. Iowa is a long way away from their homes in Falkirk, but I know that they have been having a great time playing and experiencing the American way of life.
“I hope that both lads could win this years NAIA National Championship. For Ross, it would have been a fitting way to end his collegiate career.”