Thistle Youth F.C. are a Platinum/Legacy Level Quality Mark Grassroots club from Aberdeenshire who provide inclusive participation opportunities for over 300 players supported by 87 coach volunteers.
The club approached The Scottish Football Partnership Trust (SFP Trust) in October 2021 as they had identified the need to improve winter training opportunities specifically for their goalkeeping academy. The goalkeeping academy was formed 4 years ago and as well as providing quality, specific GK training for keepers from the club’s 16 age-groups, it also provides a place where the keepers can have a feeling of belonging. The children come together on a Monday evening and collectively work on aspects of goalkeeping that arose at their respective games over the weekend. With such a big age range in the participants at Thistle Youth, the older GKs often mentor or assist the younger players and mutually support and encourage each other.
Participation numbers in the GK Academy have traditionally been high from spring to autumn but typically have fallen greatly in the winter months. Parents report a reluctance to travel the 20/25 miles into the city to use a floodlit Astro pitch in winter. All the keepers attend their own respective training during the week and the club identified that attendance at the GK Academy on a Monday is only possible for the children and their families if these sessions could be kept local.
In response to the club’s need to improve training opportunities over the winter period, The SFP Trust was able to part-fund the purchase of portable training lights for the GK Academy. With the ability to make use of natural grass training areas on a local level, Thistle Youth’s goalkeeping coaches are now able to continue to progress and develop the club’s young goalkeepers from October to April without any facility-related barriers.
Kirsty MacRae, Executive Committee Member said “The grant award from the SFP Trust has allowed us to purchase floodlights for our goalkeeping academy. This is a massive boost for the club as it means our keepers are now able to stay at their home pitch over winter rather than the fragmented approach we had before. Our keepers benefit greatly from the camaraderie of training as one group away from their individual age-groups, however previously this was proving a tough task without our new portable floodlights. We have already seen attendance at the academy improve as parents are not being asked to travel so far for training and we would like to thank The Trustees of the SFP Trust for their support with this project.”
*The Scottish Football Partnership Trust’s Grassroots Facilities Fund has been created by a charitable donation received from Mr. James Anderson.