After writing an article yesterday about Celtic’s Under 19′s once again participating in the Next Gen series where I pointed out the quality within our Under 19′s squad a timely article was published in today’s Herald newspaper by Alan Cmpbell.
It points out that Celtic were the first club in the UK to base it’s youth development around a school which in Celtic’s case is St Ninian’s High School in Kirkintilloch. To give the author credit he did point out that although the School is RC 75% of the intake were not of the RC faith which is Ideal because finally it might just penetrate the thick skulls of those who think RC schools for RC’s only.
The school it’s self is modern with excellent sports facilities and a fitness suite. The boy’s day begins at 6.00 in the morning and ends at 10.00 in the evening combining football training, school studies, fitness and nutrition lessons. The idea being not just to provide a good level of young footballer but also to ensure they have a rounded academic education to fall back on.
If you follow Twitter you will notice that a lot of the under 19 boys attend college as well as being full time pros with Celtic. I think Celtic have set an excellent benchmark for the rest of Scottish football. These are the guys who have left school and are continuing with further education which I think is a fantastic thing.
The cost of running this program is not cheap. This costs Celtic around £200,000 a year to run the project, which will increase with the new S2 age group in August. Transport costs alone are £75,000, including the salaries of two drivers. The club also provides coaches and tutors, as well as sports scientists and welfare officers. Some boys come from other parts of Scotland and are housed with local families – another big cost for Celtic. Money well spent in my opinion and a good indication of where a good part of Neil Lennons budget as club manager goes.
Clubs from England are now regular visitors to Lennoxtown where they have not only a look around the facilities but most importantly they have a good overall look at Celtic’s youth set up and many are now adopting it down south.
The only other Scottish club who have a similar setup at youth level are Dundee Utd where we are also seing some good young talent emerge.
This is certainly the way forward for the game in Scotland and I’m delighted that it is being lead by Celtic FC.
The article in today,s Herald can be found here and is worth a read.