Two graduates serve their country

ACADEMY graduates Tam Scobbie and Scott Arfield have been flying the flag for Falkirk in Portugal this week.

The two 19-year-old regulars in the current Bairns' first team are part of the Scotland under-21 squad that is contesting the eighth Vale do Tejo International Tournament.

Scobbie played 90 minutes for the national side against the host country in Abrantes on Tuesday.

But, despite a terrific display, Scotland ended up losing 2-1. Ultimately, a 67th minute goal from Inter Milan's 'Pele' secured the tie.

The Portuguese tournament is being used as a warm-up for the European Championship qualifying tie against Finland, at Pittodrie, next month.

And Arfield was expected to feature against Ukraine in Cartaxo yesterday (Wednesday) in the third/fourth place play-off as Heraldsport went to press.

Regardless of results though, Falkirk know they have two young stars that everyone should be proud of.

"It is fantastic these players, at their age, are turning out for their country at this level," said Academy spokesman Ross Wilson. "They are both extremely proud of, and feel very privileged, being part of the international set-up. Everyone at the club is delighted for them as well.

"I spoke to Scott this week and he was absolutely buzzing to be involved and we all wish him and Tam the very best with their international careers."

Scotland U21 head coach Billy Stark ensured that all squad members would not be over-worked prior to this weekend.

Ross explained: "There are a lot of players, including Scott and Tam, that are regularly involved in the SPL. So they haven't been pushed too hard and should come back fully fit and ready for Saturday's trip to Ibrox."

Meanwhile, the Academy under-19s are raring to get back to action this week after their scheduled fixture last Saturday, against St Mirren in Govan, was called-off because of a frozen pitch.

They are now due to play Dundee United at Stirling University on Friday (11 a.m. kick-off).

"The 19s are desperate to get back playing again and are all looking forward to the next match," said Ross.

"However, due to injuries at first team level, many of them were involved in the Falkirk Futures game against St Mirren on Tuesday."

In fact, the starting 11 had TEN current Academy players or graduates.

They ended up losing 3-0 to the Reserve League leaders in Paisley but it still proved to be a worthwhile exercise.

Ross was at Broadwood last Saturday to witness graduate Brian Allison play his part in Stirling Albion's first away win of the current season, 3-1 against Clyde.

"Brian is on a one-month loan with Stirling and did extremely well for them," said Ross. "He was arguably Stirling's best player and passed the ball very well, despite it being a different style of football to what he is used to.

"He is really enjoying his time there."

Another graduate, Kevin Moffat, also joined the Binos on a 30-day 'emergency' loan last week and, contrary to reports elsewhere, remained on the bench against Clyde.

"Kevin has yet to train with Stirling but is excited at the prospect of playing first team football," said Ross. "And I am sure his skill and pace will get their fans excited as well."

The under-11s and 12s' fixtures were postponed last weekend but they face Dunfermline this Saturday at Stirling (11 a.m.). The other Academy teams did play though, and are back in action again on Sunday.

The 13s and 14s are away to Kilmarnock (TBC) while the 15s and 17s also play the Rugby Park sides at home (noon kick-offs).

l THE Falkirk Girls Academy travelled to Wishaw on Saturday morning to play an U13 league fixture and won 4-2, courtesy of goals from Charlotte Bibby (2), Stacey Anderson and Cari Johnston. They also continued with their diet and nutrition programme on Monday, where they received a one-hour seminar on healthy eating and drinking.

Any player interested in the Academy should contact Pauline direct at Falkirk FC. The next assessment night for the Development Centres is on Wednesday, March 26, at the stadium, and is open to any girl in Falkirk from P3 upwards. Girls may then be offered a place in one of the programmes.