Young Ferryden footballer takes training to next level with SFA programme

Ferryden youngster Kerr Smith, who has been accepted for the SFA's Performance School.
Ferryden youngster Kerr Smith, who has been accepted for the SFA's Performance School.

A promising young Angus footballer has taken the next steps towards a professional career in the game by gaining entry to a prestigious SFA programme.

Kerr Smith from Ferryden beat off stiff competition in several regional trials covering Angus, Fife, Perthshire and Tayside to be accepted as a pupil at the SFA’s Performance School which is based at St. John’s High School in Dundee.

The football association runs seven schools across the country as part of its Performance Strategy to develop the cream of Scotland’s talented young under 12 footballers. A number of boys and girls are admitted to the schools annually and provided with extra coaching sessions during the curriculum focusing on skills development. Over a four-year period, this provides developing players with an extra 800 hours of coaching.

Each school, which combines academic study with football training, has a full-time coach working in conjunction with clubs and the school to enhance players’ technical skills at a key stage of their development and support academic potential.

Kerr, 11, is one of just seven players accepted for the Dundee programme which, as well as specialist youth coaches, provides additional experts in fitness training and physical conditioning.

The youngster has trained with Dundee United since he was seven and has combined his team commitments to the under 11, Under 12 and Under 13 squads while continuing to play for Brechin City Boys Club on a Sunday.

As well as selection days, the SFA organised football festivals involving senior clubs, provided scouting reports and examined club reports to help the performance team identify the best players eligible for each school in time for the August enrolment.

Brian McClair, Scottish FA performance director, said the schools, which have been operating for four years, fulfil a vital role.

He said: “In partnership with the clubs, the Regional Performance Schools have increased the opportunities for young players to practice the fundamental elements of our national game, all in a safe, enthusiastic and enjoyable environment that encourages and supports diligence, discipline and creativity.”

Kerr now hopes to sign a professional contract, combined with continuing his education into S5.