OPINION: In defence of the SFA performance school programme

David Oliver.
David Oliver.

Sports Editor David Oliver hopes any rumoured budget cuts in the future will spare the performance school programme pioneered in Falkirk at Graeme High School.

The programme that was pioneered at Graeme High school with a first intake that included Craig Sibbald and Paul McMullan goes about its work quietly but that’s no reason for their cash to be diverted elsewhere.

Ian Ross and Brian McLaughlin were involved in this year's intake selection at the Falkirk school trials. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Ian Ross and Brian McLaughlin were involved in this year's intake selection at the Falkirk school trials. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Go round to Graeme and witness the work being done by Ian Ross and his coaching team and there’s a wealth of talent, often from players associated with big teams.

Sibbald is now in the Premiership with Livingston. McMullan at one of the best supported clubs in the country, Dundee United.

Beyond them there’s been Connor McBride once of Falkirk now at Celtic, the Hogarth goalkeeping brothers at Rangers and Zac Butterworth. Zak Rudden came through the performance school in Edinburgh before moving to Rangers’ associated school Boclair. Celtic have similar.

The biggest clubs see fit to fund their own themselves, so why not the governing body for the greater good of the game?

Taking the funding away from the programme is taking time away from the players on the pitch and imbalancing the time it takes to practise around their studies.

It may not have borne fruit quite yet but the foundation is there, and can be witnessed first hand along the road. But a foundation has to be built upon and it’s the development experience after they leave the Performance Schools that needs time, and the players need time, and knocking the funding out from beneath them will make that step up all the more difficult.