As well as working significantly with local schools on a number of projects in the Community Programme, Ayr United Football Academy supports the SFA School of Football which is funded by the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities initiative.
AUFA was initially involved from August 2008 with the School of Football at Cumnock Academy which was one of the initial 6 schools chosen in Scotland.
With the support of South Ayrshire Council, the School of Football at Prestwick Academy commenced in August 2011.
Both the Scottish Football Association and AUFA are involved in choosing the pupils to participate in the School of Football at Prestwick Academy. Through a series of selection days consisting of evaluations of their playing ability, academic progress at primary school and their social background and character, pupils are chosen from each of the school’s associated primaries. They follow an enhanced timetable which includes a period of football activity every day. While football is used as a tool to motivate the pupils, their place on the School of Football programme depends on school attendance and academic improvement
Ayr United Football Academy delivers the school of football through Academy coach Scott Agnew who provides 5 days of football coaching activities to the group of players from secondaries 1 to 3.
Monitoring and evaluation is coordinated by the SFA Player and Coach Development Officer, Alan Sloss.
Scott delivers 2 football sessions per day and he also delivers lifestyle skills sessions & workshops to the young players including diet & nutrition, leadership skills and motivational techniques.
The football sessions are designed to improve their individual ability such as technique development, speed & agility, balance & co-ordination and flexibility and recovery sessions.
There is a steering group including representatives from the SFA, AUFA and Prestwick Academy to maintain a cohesive programme and share information on pupil behaviour and development, delivery content and other issues such as parents’ evenings, report cards etc.
The School of Football is about more than just playing ability. It aims to mould better citizens, as well as better footballers, through social and educational development. The Schools of Football in which AUFA have been involved have had positive reviews from parents, pupils, teachers, coaches and those from other backgrounds who have been looking on in interest. The improvement in the pupils’ physical abilities, behaviour, concentration and communication have all been highlighted as particular successes.
The project will remain a social and academic development programme. Whilst there may be talented players involved, it will continue to be a holistic initiative designed to develop the person first and the player second.
Throughout the programme, players have the opportunity to be identified by senior clubs involved in the Scottish FA Youth Initiative programme.