NURTURING FOOTBALL TALENT IN AN EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
FOOTBALL SCHOLARSHIPS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING, SCOTLAND’S UNIVERSITY
FOR SPORTING EXCELLENCE
The Scottish Football Partnership has strengthened its relationship with Stirling University, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, to support talented young footballers, many of whom have been released by professional clubs, to gain a higher degree and develop their footballing abilities.
The University of Stirling, in partnership with Falkirk FC, and with funding support from the Scottish Football Partnership, launched its football scholarship programme in April 2008. These are Craig Gowans football scholarships in memory of Craig Gowans, who died after a training ground accident at Falkirk’s former training ground. Football scholarships enable talented young players to study at the University, participate in training and competition programmes to become better footballers and participate in coach education programmes to acquire coaching skills and experience. Players represent the University of Stirling and assist with coaching teams in the local community and with academy and community programmes at professional football clubs. Scholarships are awarded annually and are based on satisfactory progress with academic work, football and coaching development. Football scholarships complement similar models operating in swimming, triathlon, tennis and golf on the picturesque Stirling campus.
Scholarship awards are valued between £2.5 -5.0K per annum and are used to cover sports-related costs such as clothing & equipment, travel and coaching awards as well as academic-related expenses such as tuition fees, books and subsistence fees.
61 football scholarship awards have been distributed over the past 4 years, supporting more than 30 individuals at a cost of just over £120,000. The Football Partnership provided funding to support 4 scholarships per annum during this period and agreed recently to continue its support through to the end of the 2015-16 season.
The achievements of University of Stirling footballers that have benefited from a scholarship award are impressive. Seven scholars have re-entered the professional game, 5 have gained full-time employment within the football business after graduating and the majority of graduates continue to coach at community and performance levels. Most importantly all have developed as athletes and as people and now embrace the value of giving something back to the sport.
Jason Bolam (2008/9 – 2010/11)
Jason is from Stenhousemuir, Falkirk. Prior to attending university, Jason was a registered youth player with Falkirk FC. He graduated from Stirling with a Diploma in Higher Education. Whilst at Stirling, he represented Scottish Universities’ and won an East of Scotland First Division winners medal. He also gained his SFA Youth Coaching Licence and worked tirelessly as a volunteer with Falkirk FC’s community programme. Jason has used his qualifications and experience to good effect and is now employed full-time by Falkirk FC as a Youth Football Development Officer.
Liam Corr (2010/11 – present)
Liam is from Doune and is a former Scottish schoolboys’ internationalist. He left Stirling Albion FC in May 2009, disillusioned by a lack of 1st team games. He immediately accepted a football scholarship at the University of Stirling where he gained a BA (Hons) in Sports Studies. He demonstrated a consistency of performance over the past 12 months that earned him Scottish and British Universities’ representative accolades. Liam now holds his SFA Youth Licence and in his spare time coaches football at a local secondary school. He is now completing an MSc in Sports Coaching at Stirling.
Creag Robertson (2008/9 – 2010/11)
Creag is from West Linton. He entered the University of Stirling as a football scholarship recipient studying a postgraduate degree in sports management, after completing a 3-year undergraduate degree at an American college. Creag has represented Scottish Universities’ and British Universities’ and played for the Scottish semi-professional team. He completed his MSc in September 2011 and is now employed as Football Development Manager with Falkirk FC. He also delivers sports science support to the Scottish FA’s women’s international programme. Creag continues to play football for the University of Stirling, despite numerous opportunities to sign for clubs in the Scottish Football League.