NAIRN County Football Club are delighted to be among only three Scottish Highland Football League clubs to have received a £10,000 SFA Youth Development grant for season 2015/16.
The club has had to meet a strict range of criteria to receive the cash boost, which will go towards financing the substantial running costs of the U15s and U17s teams.
The grant was obtained in no small part thanks to the hard work of the club's Head of Youth Development, Gillian McWilliam.
She said: "We are obviously delighted to receive this money given how much it costs the club each year to run the Youth Development side but I must stress if it was not for the dedication of our volunteer coaches in achieving the necessary qualifications then we would not get any funding."
The club needs to have one C certified coach and one Level 1.3 qualified coach per team. Once qualified, the coaches then have to commit to completing 15 hours of coaching courses every three years as part of their Continued Coaching Development. The costs of attending all of these courses and subsequent overnight accommodation is all paid for by the club.
On top of their football coaching qualifications, the coaches must also have the necessary PVG Disclosure and appropriate first aid certificate, which must be repeated every three years in order to meet the criteria for the stringent auditing procedure to receive the grant.
Gillian added: "Our aim is to treat the boys in our youth teams the same way as the first team, so they are equipped with club tracksuits for match days, coached at two training sessions per week by suitably qualified coaches, weather permitting and entered into the SHFL Youth Development League giving them a full programme of fixtures each season."
"That, in itself, is a lot of expenditure with training equipment, the hire of pitches and training facilities and putting the coaches through the appropriate courses. You then have things like referees' fees, transport to away fixtures and laundering strips on top of that to cover as well."
"Any money that comes in to the youth side of the club is always gratefully received and this grant will mean that we are able to continue to provide proper SFA football coaching and development in Nairn for the 40 signed players that we have at U15s and U17s level."
The club remains committed to the guidelines within the SFA National Player Pathway - which maps a player's development from the age of 6 through to the end of U17s level - for the U15s and U17s age groups.
Gillian stressed that the SFA only give grant funding to SHFL Clubs at U15s and U17s levels and not any other age group.
"This season, we have entered an U20s team in a North of Scotland Football Association League and contrary to popular belief, this age group does not qualify for or receive any grant aid from SFA. It is funded entirely by Nairn County Football Club," she added.
Gillian is always looking for extra volunteers to assist with the running of the youth teams. If anyone would like to help out either on training nights or on match days she can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.