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Tommy Wilson on Scotland's Footballing youth


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by Alison McConnell

TOMMY WILSON today warned that widespread changes need to take place in society before Scotland begin to improve on the football pitch.

The highly-respected youth coach, who oversees Rangers' Football Academy, said more and more youngsters are struggling with the basics of the game and much of the reason why our standards have fallen so short is due to the lack of activity levels of today's children.

"The biggest concern for a guy in my position is our youngsters' general lack of physical activity," Wilson said. "I see it every day, and it is the same across Scotland. We simply don't have kids in society now who do as much physical activity as we once did.

"We live in the com-puter age, and you can see it in our young kids' conditioning. Those of us who are involved in youth development have a lot of hard work on our hands."

Educationally, according to Wilson, Scotland is also falling behind, as he recently discovered while on a trip to Germany with Rangers last month for the Champions League fixture against Stuttgart.

"In Germany, kids must do a minimum of four hours' physical activity a week in schools," he said. "It is such an obvious area in which we are deficient.

"We have a major task getting our youngsters more exposed to physical activity. Trying to improve our kids athletically is a big aspect of it all. I see the consequences of it every day. When I came to this job I thought I'd spend most of my time working on tactics and strategy with young players. But so much of our time is taken up with teaching kids the basics: how to head, how to control the ball, how to pass with both feet.

"The truth is, I do just one session a month on team-shaping, because the other stuff, the basics, is so obviously required.

"It is a question of persisting and persisting. We are trying to redress a balance that has been lost over the years with youngsters. There are no short-cuts available to us - we just have to keep at it to try to catch up with foreign youngsters. You just hope that, even-tually, a Steven Fletcher or a John Fleck will emerge and prove good enough to hold down a first-team place and maybe go on to play for his country."

However, Wilson believes the influx of immigrants can be of benefit to Scotland.

"The limited gene pool we have in Scotland is a factor, I believe," he said. "If you look these days at the Dutch, the French or the English national teams, they tend to have quite a racially mixed group of players. When I coached in the USA they often said the top athletes tended to be those of mixed race, and now I'm starting to believe it.

"In Scotland we just don't have that variety of gene pool to call upon. That might change in time, with more immigration, etc, but it hasn't happened yet."

Publication date 13/10/09


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intersting point made about the mixed race.

Holland and France are two international nations that rely heavily on Surinam, Ivory Coast, French Guyana and more, most of the top players of the last 20 years have a bit of something else in them.

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Good article and spot on imho. Not just for Scotland but most of the developed world I suspect. Living here in Canada, and most kids do nothing. Video games, just lounging around etc.

There does not seem to be an appetite to get a ball and play. There's plenty of kids playing Football here but it's just that they go to practice, play games but nothing in between. It's like if they don't have to, they won't.

Not sure what the answer is except having schools legislate physical activity to a degree.. but it's the minds and attitudes that need to be changed.

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Aye more immigrants are gonny be our saviour, I think it dilutes the whole purpose of a national team if its gonny full of jamaicans, africans etc than scots boys.

Scotland Should arguably have been going to the Euros or world cup had we appointed an half compotent manager rather than Burley in our last campaign.

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It's a bizarre statement. Italy are the world champions and Spain the European Champions and they've hardly a 'mixed race' in their squads. If we're going to start blaming our lack of football ability on race we're as well packing up and going home now. Football is one of the few genuinely meritocratic occupations, the colour of your skin has no baring on your ability to play football.

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