Friday, February 05, 2010

Honey, we failed the kids

The kids are alright?

Well, no actually. A couple of items from the local press caught my eye yesterday.

Firstly in the East Lothian Courier (the courts page acts as a kind of offline social network for my alma mater) an experienced youth coach can be found "slamming" the current youth set up in Scotland. Scott Robertson, former chairman of Musselburgh Windsor, compares the Scottish system with the Netherlands. His conclusion is simple and predictable: "We have gone mad here."

He's now taken his battle to Holyrood with a petition backed by Iain Gray. Mr Robertson is calling for a review of the whole youth set up. Let us hope Mr Gray starts by calling his predecessor Henry McLeish and asking Hank what his review of the national game aims to achieve in this area.

Then in the Edinburgh Evening News (still proudly delivering yesterday's news tomorrow) Hutchison Vale coach Tam Smith is protesting at the threatened withdrawal of all council funding from his club. Hutchison Vale (the club that unearthed John Collins amongst others) is a seventy year old Edinburgh institution that now supports 32 age group teams and a women's section. The barrel load of cash that the Lib Dem/SNP council coalition are trying to save council tax payers? £288 pounds. I suppose it might buy a firework for Hogmanay.

Small, isolated examples for sure. But they highlight a greater truth. For all the hardwork of dedicated, devoted men like Robertson and Smith the youth structure is continuing to fail. And the football authorities stand watching all this apparently lacking the will or ideas to do much about it.

Little stories like this suggest that Craig Levein has quite a task to revolutionise the game at age group level. As the very future of the game depends on it we can only wish him well.