Prior to the formation of the Regional Academy in June 2014, the four senior Fife clubs had almost 230 players involved in their 4 Academies. This consisted of around 185 registered players and around 50 trialists. The number of players registered with the 4 clubs under the umbrella of FEFA at ages 11-17 now stands at 89 players with trialist / development players being currently 12 in number. In effect there has been a reduction of abound 130 players in the Academy system.
Previous to regionalisation, as none of the 4 clubs were at Elite level, players were mostly offered a minimum of 2 coaching sessions per week as per Club Academy Scotland criteria for 2 star (Bronze) and below. Now, further to audits by the SFA as a 4 star (Silver) Elite academy players are offered a minimum of 3 sessions per week in order to comply with more demanding criteria. Players at all age levels now have access to a coach who is qualified to at least Youth Licence / Pro Licence / A Licence / ACL level, which is a substantial strengthening of the prior position. In addition, players are now able to compete and test themselves against the best players in Scotland at their age level due to the Academy participating in the Elite games programme.
To date there has only been one group of U17 players who have left the Academy and sought contracts with the four clubs. The number of players who left at U17 in May 2015 numbered 12. Of those 12 players 8 currently have a Modern Apprenticeship.
Dunfermline Athletic: 5
Raith Rovers: 2
The Measurable Performance Outcome score for the 4 clubs when combined at the end of season 2013-14 was 142 points. Now, as a regional Academy, the score at the end of season 2014-15 rose to 201 points leaving FEFA in 6th place position amongst the 31 Academies listed. MPO’s are used by the SFA to judge an academy’s performance in supplying academy players to first teams and to the Scotland national teams from aged 16 up to the senior squad.
Full Time Staff
Head of Youth at Fife Elite is Stephen Wright. Stephen’s football career which was cut short through injury saw him play for Aberdeen, Rangers, Bradford City and Dundee United. During this period he won 2 Scotland caps as well as making appearances in the Champions League.
Having had to stop playing Stephen was able to make a start on his coaching career by securing a post as coach working in the ‘Rangers in the Community’ scheme. Here, his coaching ability caught the eye of Academy Director George Adams and Stephen was offered a post as a coach with the Rangers Academy squads. For three and a half years, Stephen worked at Murray Park, working with some of Scotland’s most talented young footballers.
The next part of Stephen’s journey began in January 2008, when the new manager of Dunfermline Athletic, Jim McIntyre, offered Stephen the opportunity to work as first team coach at Dunfermline. After the departure of Jim Mcintyre in 2012, Stephen took up the post as Head of Youth in the Dunfermline Academy and oversaw the young Pars U19 team reach the final of the SFA Youth Cup, where they lost to Celtic 3-2 in the final at Hampden Park in May 2013.
When the 4 senior Fife clubs decided to form the Fife Elite Regional Academy in June 2014, Stephen was the unanimous choice for the post of Head of Youth and he still remains in this role.
Over the years of his involvement in youth football Stephen has been instrumental in developing players such as Danny Wilson, Kyle Hutton and Jamie Ness at Rangers, whilst he has also developed players such as Lewis Martin, Shaun Byrne, Ryan Williamson , Cammy Gill and PJ Crossan who are all current members of the DAFC first team squad. Hopefully others too, will be added in the coming years.
Bill Hendry is the Fife Elite Academy Operations Manager. He began his time at the Fife Academy in September 2014 and has been been involved in youth and Schools football since 1985, Bill was formerly a secondary teacher in Lanarkshire where his involvement with the Lanarkshire Schools FA as President and the Scottish Schools FA as a Council member brought about an invitation to join Motherwell to work in their youth academy in 1995. Working closely with John Park for three years, he then followed John to Hibernian FC in June 1998 where he worked as a coach / scout and admin assistant in the Academy. When John Park left Hibernian in April 2007 to become Football Development Manager at Celtic, Bill Hendry gave up his post as a teacher and went full time at Hibernian where he was Head of Youth till August 2014.
Through his experiences at Motherwell and Hibernian as well as with the Lanarkshire schools, Bill has played a part in the identification and development of such Scotland players as Scott Brown, Stephen Fletcher, Kevin Thomson, Steven Whittaker, James McFadden, Gary O’Connor as well as current Hibernian FC first team players Paul Hanlon, Lewis Stevenson and Jason Cummings. In fact, in the 16 years he spent at Hibs over 50 Academy players made their debut for the first team. Hibernian was also the last team out with of the Old Firm to win the SFA Youth Cup in 2009 since Kilmarnock won it in 2004. It is his great hope that soon former academy members of the Fife Elite FA will be added to the list of players making a first team debut.