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Neil Simpson on Project Brave

November 16, 2017 1:18 pm Author: AFC Media Team

Neil Simpson Head of Youth Academy at Pittodrie. (Photo Newsline Scotland).

The Scottish FA announced a landmark step in Project Brave, with the confirmation of club placings within the new academy structure. Aberdeen FC were given elite status. RedTV spoke to Head of Youth Academy Neil Simpson:

“Its great news for the Club. Aberdeen have a proud history of producing young players throughout the years and I think it justifies the work that’s gone on in terms of developing players. They start at ten years of age and come through the different age groups and you can see there’s young players getting opportunities in the first team as well. It’s a great team effort.

“Obviously, Scotland haven’t qualified for international tournaments like the World Cup and European Championships for years and if you recognise that then we need to produce a better player and international class player. The experts have said to achieve that then we have to work with them at the top level and that’s playing best v best on a weekly basis, implementing a number of changes to the academies in terms of sport science, better recruitment and video analysis. All of these aspects will help to produce a better player and improve the quality of Scottish football.

“We made a conscious decision a number of years ago to change.  With help from the board, who have been very supportive of the Youth Academy we now have a full-time sports scientist in Paddy Maughan, who has been with us for three years. There’s Ryan Stuart doing full time performance analysis, where we’re doing in depth work and Greig Thomson who works with the first team. There’s a full time Head of Recruitment, Jim Fraser who has revamped our scouting network and you have to have five full time coaches in post, which we’ve had for the past number years. We are always looking at ways to improve our programme, but in terms of that criteria we’ve had that in place for a number of years.

“Steven Gunn has been part of the working group looking at best practice throughout Europe and the changes that have been required and implemented throughout the game. We also look at the measurable performance outcomes, which looks at how many first team appearances young academy players have played here or if they’ve moved on as well as international appearances. Aberdeen are very favourable in where we sit in terms of those outcomes.

“What will happen is the season will start in March and finish in November. We used to stop in the middle of May and then there’s the whole of June that’s wasted. You can see that its better pitches and its better for the kids in terms of their development. I think it will be a huge step forward. There’s also going to be another layer of the age group right up to U18’s in the summer and then the plan is to have reserve team football as well. There will be a better pathway to develop young players and it gives them another year of development.

“I would like to say thanks to all who were involved in helping us achieve this status and also praise the continued hard work of all our Youth Academy staff, coaches and the fantastic job they do developing all our young players.”

 

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