Hearts have launched their own performance school at Balerno High to oversee the academic and footballing progress of their youth players.
Riccarton teenagers will get daily lessons and football coaching at the school, which is just three miles from the Hearts training ground on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Their academic studies there will be supplemented by 90 minutes of elite football coaching every day. They will then visit Riccarton to train with the club three nights per week.
The partnership mirrors the Scottish Football Association’s seven performance schools across the country and brings Hearts in line with other top clubs in Scotland.
Celtic have a link with St Ninian’s High School in Kirkintilloch for their teenagers, whilst Rangers use Boclair Academy in Bearsden in the same way.
The Hearts’ director of football and manager Craig Levein was keen to install a similar scheme, which Balerno have agreed to facilitate. Levein helped implement Dundee United’s performance link-up with St John’s High School in the city several years ago.
A statement released by Hearts read: “Heart of Midlothian Football Club and Balerno High School have entered into an exciting new partnership which will see young footballers and students reap the rewards.
“The link up will provide elite level academy youngsters at Hearts with an environment at Balerno where they can combine their studies and footballing education up until the age of 16.
“In turn, pupils at Balerno will have the opportunity to participate in work experience across different business areas at Hearts, while the club will also assist in delivering a coach education programme for the school’s senior pupils.
“Taking inspiration from the Scottish FA’s performance schools, players selected for this partnership will receive an extra 90 minutes of coaching per day at Balerno to supplement their regular training sessions at the Hearts football academy in the evenings.
“The structure of each day’s training session will differ in order to enhance all aspects of the players’ game. Along with hitting the recommended 10,000 hours worth of training time required to produce elite athletes, video analysis will be on offer, as will working on players’ mindsets.
“The partnership is an ongoing agreement between Hearts and Balerno, with a new S1 intake starting every August. When the partnership is fully up and running there will be over 40 pupils from S1- S4 involved, travelling from across Scotland.”
Neil McCallum, Head Teacher at Balerno High School, said: “We are delighted to have formed this partnership with Hearts.
“We will provide the opportunity for the boys to have a high quality educational experience, while also allowing them have more contact time with their coaches to develop their football skills.
“The partnership will also allow us to develop strong community links with the club and the pupils from the school will benefit from additional opportunities such as coaching, leadership and skills for the workplace.
“The boys that have started at the school have settled in well and are coping well with the demands placed on them in regard to their education and also developing in football.
“We look forward to this being a long and positive relationship for many years to come.”