College Sport USA

My name is Stewart Taylor

I am the Head of Youth at Scottish Division Two Club Stirling Albion FC.

I have been a physical Education teacher for over 30 years and have served as a U-18 Scottish National Team Coach, National Team Selection Committee Member and as the President of the Scottish Schools Football Association.

I have had a personal involvement in shaping the future of young players who have gone on to play at the top level professionally both in club football and at senior international level. In ten years as the Head of Youth Development at Stirling Albion FC, I have watched as 13 Academy players progressed through our system to make their debuts with the senior team before going onto make a career for themselves as professional footballers.

If I, were to tell you that in those 10 years, our Youth Academy has worked with over 400 players who were all striving to make the grade as professionals, then perhaps that would provide a measure of the drop out levels in Scottish Football and beyond.

Understandably, my coaching staff and I are delighted when a young player makes the progression into professional football and I feel a tremendous amount of pride at having made a positive impact on their development. This feeling of satisfaction is always tempered by the fact that I have to sit down with other young players to let them know that they will not be considered, to be at the “required level” for a professional contact or as is most often the case, “ready” for a professional contract.

These are the tough decisions which are being taken at every professional football club, the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and the statistics are terrible for young aspiring players.

I have been heartened in recent years by the emergence of a system which I believe provides a real and positive opportunity for young players who would otherwise be lost to the game.

In 2001, one of our young players was offered the chance to take up a place at an American College.

He went on to have a great career during his four years at college in the USA and has forged a fantastic career for himself as a part-time professional whilst continuing his career as a highly paid coach.

Admittedly, it was not a route that I was familiar with and my knowledge of the level of play in the US was limited. I was asked to guest coach at Loyola University in Maryland during the summer of 2002 and witnessed some of the most fantastic facilities available to young players I had ever seen.

Since then I have personally assisted more than 30 young players, gain scholarship placements in the United States and it is a trend which I see continuing in the future as more and more young players find themselves released by their club.

It gives me tremendous satisfaction and of course, peace of mind to see a young player go on to further their careers in this way. The US collegiate system is a fantastic way for any aspiring young player to continue their football development, gain valuable life experience and of course work towards an education which will stand them in good stead long after their involvement in the game.

I am proud to be associated with College Sport USA and the work which the company does to further the opportunities for young players.

It is a system that works and I believe it is worth considering for any young player with the desire and will to continue their ambitions in the game.

Stewart Taylor

Stewart Taylor
Head of Youth
Stirling Albion FC

College Sport USA
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