Edinburgh City have taken steps to establish a clear pathway to the first team for young players with the formation of the Edinburgh Football Development Team.
Headed up by Head of Youth Graham Buckley, the long term aim is produce players that will, in time, progress to James McDonaugh’s first-team squad.
“I came in to help the under-20s last season then quickly established in the job of Head of Youth,” Buckley explained. “Last season we brought on an under-17s side that was very successful and the 20s side managed to win their first cup in ten years.
“Six or seven players made their debuts in the first team all under 19 so that was a big plus. The chairman [Jim Brown] thought that gave us the legs to build something else. The target now is in three years to have one team in each division of the juvenile age groups, all the way right through.
“The chairman’s backed me and sees the progress we’ve made already. We’ve now got training facilities, a home park and we’re looking at sponsors who want to get involved. It’s a massive project and Edinburgh City sustaining their SPFL status has been huge.
“Josh [Walker, City’s captain] has been down helping and there will be another few players down helping with training sessions and things, so the boys are going to get a really good education and there’s a pathway to get them up to the 20s.”
McDonaugh’s willingness to give youngsters a chance, along with his background in youth football, can only help.
“James’ background is massive in this,” said Buckley. “At the same time, he has a job to do. Gary Jardine did a fantastic job to get the club where it is in the first place, but I think the change was just made at the right time. James has done a great job keeping them up and I’m just delighted he gave so many of the youngsters a chance.
“Calum Hall is the big example. At 16 Gary took him in and wasn’t sure at first. I convinced him to have a look and since then he’s only played six games for the 20s – which cost us the league! He’s still only 17 but he’s a regular member of the first team, and we’ve got hopes for another three or four of the youngsters coming through that they’re on that same path. It’s up to them now.”