Forth Valley football academy has become the first professional Academy in Scotland to integrate multi-sports within the curriculum.
In July 2016 the regional Academy (which was also the first in Scotland) launched a twice weekly individual and team sport programme for all Academy players aged between 10 and 14.
The additional sports have afforded the Academy the opportunity to work with and support local grassroots clubs such as Stirling Karate Club and Alloa Boxing Club; providing the players with a high level of coaching expertise. Education and Welfare Officer Colin Burkey, who is also Principal teacher of PE at Wallace High school has also delivered in-service training to the Children’s and Intermediate Academy coaches for the team sports element.
The thinking behind it is that multi-sport athletes benefit from increased speed, agility, and flexibility and are less likely to suffer from burn out and psychological issues later in their development. Research has also shown that students who specialise in one-sport year-round develop an increase in injuries due to overuse of the same joints and tissues for an extended time. Forth Valley FA is therefore using the research available to shape a new approach to elite player development which combines a challenging and dynamic football training and games programme with technical coaching and game play in sports such as gymnastics, karate, boxing and basketball.
Throughout the journey from Under 11s to Under 15s the players will receive in excess of 300 multi-sports sessions totalling 60+ hours annually.
The key element however is that players’ football education is not affected in anyway with no reduction to the time spent on the pitch. The multi-sports inserts are additional with the Academy taking the lead in Scotland.
Jamie Swinney said: “Feedback from the first four months suggests it will become an integral part of the journey for every child. The players are enjoying every minute of the sessions which they approach with the same contagious enthusiasm they apply to the training and games. The coaches’ incredible dedication and open minded nature has allowed the programme to flourish and without them it would not be possible. The Academy parents have embraced the changes and continue to provide a fantastic level of support for what is an ever increasing commitment.
“Without the on-going support of our partners and sponsors and the contributions of everyone connected with the Academy towards the fundraising plan the introduction of such an immensely beneficial programme would not be possible, the Academy staff would therefore like to thank everyone for their support.”