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Forres Mechanics extend youth development to under-11 level with two new coaches

By Garry McCartney

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Cans under-11 trialists maintaining social distancing at Roysvale.
Cans under-11 trialists maintaining social distancing at Roysvale.

FORRES Mechanics have extended their youth development age range following trials for under-11s at Roysvale.

Head of Youth Development, Allan Frisken, is enthusiastic about the initiative and the talent of the trialists.

He said: "This is a new venture for us and one which we would not have undertaken without close consultation with Forres Soccer Sevens. They have done a fantastic job over the years and we look forward to working with them in the future to identify players who show special promise.

"Our SFA qualified coaches will be able to take that group on and develop their skills in the 11-a-side game, while at the same time allowing them to enjoy the training and games at the Sevens.

"We had an overwhelming response at the trials with most players coming from Soccer Sevens but others from as far afield as Lossiemouth, Aberlour, Elgin and Nairn."

The under-11s will play friendly matches against other teams from around the Moray Firth.

Their introduction extends the range of Mechanics' squads to four - under-17s, under-15s, under-13s and now under-11s - so players from as young as nine will benefit from high quality coaching and training on a regular basis.

While the initiative aims to produce a conveyor belt of players who will eventually feed in to the Mechanics' first team, Friskin is also clear about the wider benefits for the players.

He said: "We hope that most, if not all, of these players progress to running out for the Cans at Mosset Park on a Saturday at 3pm. Our signings take place at Mosset Park and we make this a real occasion for the boys. We also highlight our unique history - a founding member of the Highland League and the only senior club in world football with 'Mechanics' in its name. But we also emphasise the values and principles of our code of conduct - hard work, fairness, and respect. These are qualities which go beyond football and should influence the players' conduct throughout their lives."

The new under-11s squad trials under floodlights at Roysvale.
The new under-11s squad trials under floodlights at Roysvale.

A new squad also means extending Youth Development's pool of coaches, volunteers who give up their time and effort without payment.

The under-11s main coaches will be Ross MacLeod and Steven Hamilton, two local lads who have already made their mark in youth football in the burgh and who cannot wait to begin training with the full squad of seventeen.

"We were tremendously impressed with the ability and enthusiasm of so many of the trialists," said Forres Golf Club head green-keeper, Macleod. "It was unbelievably difficult for the extended coaching group to select seventeen and we had to assure those who were disappointed that the door is always open. For many, it was a matter of just needing another year to mature, so we look forward to seeing them at the trials in 2021."

Mr Frisken welcomed Ross and Steven to the team of Mechanics' youth coaches, now numbering eleven.

He said: "I can't speak too highly of the commitment, effort and enthusiasm of our coaches. Ross and Steven will fit in just fine. We aim to encourage all of our coaching team to maximise their qualifications through the SFA pathway. At present, we have two C-Licence coaches and others who have worked through the earlier stages and are about to apply for their licences. In addition, all of our coaches are trained in child wellbeing and protection and Covid-19 awareness. Almost all hold sports injury and first aid qualifications."

With over-18 football currently suspended at grass-roots level, Mechanics' chairman, Dave MacDonald, recognises that the youth set up is a chink of light in difficult times.

He said: "I am really confident that we have a firm foundation for successful Mechanics teams in five, 10 and 20 years time. Our coaches at all levels from Charlie Rowley and the first team right to the new under-11s do a wonderful job.

"The highlights are the games, but we shouldn't forget that success there is achieved by hard work, often through long evening hours in winter weather. It takes a special breed to be a football coach."

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