Written by Nairn County FC September 28th 2016

THE club are delighted to confirm the additions of Craig Walker and Barrie McDonald to the under-15s coaching team. The duo will link up with existing coach Stephen Grant to complete the setup. Head of Youth Development, Stewart McInnes said: "It is great that Craig and Barrie have agreed to come on board and join us." "Craig met with Ronnie Sharp, Graeme Macleod and myself at the end of last week and we had a positive discussion about how we want to take forward the youth setup at the club." "You can tell straight away from speaking to them how enthusiastic they are about their new roles and that is sure to rub off on the boys they are coaching." "I am looking forward to working with them and I have no doubts that they can make a positive contribution to the progression of the players in our under-15s squad now and in the future." Walker started out in football with the Forres Mechanics youth team before playing for Forres Thistle and then enjoying a successful run in the Forres & Nairn Welfare League, picking up numerous winners medals with Auldearn and Jackos. This culminated in him being name the League's Player of the Year in 2015 as Jackos recorded a second successive championship triumph before going on to take over as manager for the 2016 season. He said: "I am delighted to be involved with the club and it is fresh challenge for us." "Previously, we were both playing at a level where we needed to tell grown men how to play the game but some of them would not follow what you were trying to get across to them. To have the opportunity to do that here though and then hopefully see what we do on the training park come off in games on a Sunday and then seeing the young lads progress is something that I am really looking forward to." He added: "Stewart McInnes got in touch with me and asked if I fancied getting involved and I was keen right away." "I had doubts about the commitment having experienced issues like that with Jackos where I was always chasing after boys to put a team together to fulfil our fixtures. I had it in my head that it might be the same here but I have seen already that it is totally different." "I am looking forward to just getting the boys playing some football. It will be good to get my way of thinking over to the squad because in the Welfare, if you try that they seem to think they know better. It is going to be good to work with a squad who want to listen and want to learn." McDonald played in Nairn's under-21s team and was involved in a Scottish Youth Cup tie away at Hibernian in the late 1990s. He then went on to enjoy a career in the Forres & Nairn Welfare League before taking over as manager of the Jackos side which won back-to-back league championships from 2014. He said: "We had a good run at it with Jackos but we were never going to beat the new County under-20s coach Stuart Finnie's "Invincibles" record (they won every game in all competitions over the 2011 Welfare season)." "I know it is Welfare football but the league is getting tougher all of the time. The Elgin teams are getting stronger and you have seen that with Elgin Thistle winning the double this season." "The job was getting harder and harder. When you are at that level, you are chasing boys all of the time to try to put a team together but you can see the enthusiasm for the game that these lads in the under-15s have – they are as keen as anything." He added: "Craig asked me to get involved with him and I did not hesitate in saying yes." "The chance to progress players on from under-15s and see them go on to do well at under-17s level and further was a big attraction and if we can do that, then that will be an achievement on our part." "No disrespect to the Welfare League because we played in it for many years but you do not get the chance to see that sort of progression." "Ronnie has said to us he wants all of the teams at the club to play the same way to make progressing through the different age levels easier and that is something we will look to do." "We are coaching guys who are 14 years old and they just have to look at guys like Jordan (Macrae) and Dylan (Mackenzie) who are both 17 and playing regularly in the first team. Some of our players are only three years away from that and three years is not a long time. It shows that the club is willing to give them that opportunity, especially now with what Ronnie wants to do and the way he wants to take the club forward." "We will look to encourage the players and it is all about them going out and enjoying their football." Graeme Macleod

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