David McCallum RYDC Twitter Q&A
Rangers Academy coach David McCallum was a key part of the backroom team that helped guide the under-17s to Alkass Cup success in Qatar in February 2019.
The Light Blues were the first British club to win the prestigious tournament, which has been running for seven years, when they beat AS Roma on penalties in the final and top drawer sides like Paris St Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid also competed for the trophy.
David holds a UEFA Pro Licence, Youth Licence and is a former Head of Youth Development at his old club Queen’s Park. He joined the Academy in 2015 and is delighted to help the young players at the club progress.
He also took part in a Q&A with supporters on the RYDC Twitter feed, here are the highlights of his session…
Q – Elsie McReady – Hi David. You must be very proud of the young boys, but how hard will it be for them to break into the first team?
A – We are pleased with how the players performed throughout the duration of the tournament. At this stage the performance levels are more important than winning the tournament however you have to enjoy these moments at Rangers.
It’s always going to be difficult to break into the first team. The programme we have in place at the academy definitely gives them a good opportunity to progress and develop.
Thereafter, it’s down to the players to make the most of these opportunities.
Q – Alan Brown – What is the routine for the boys on game day if afternoon kick off?
A – At the under 18s the players arrive 1 and a half hours before KO which allows time to announce the team, deliver the key points for the game, finalise set plays and some walk throughs of set plays.
The players get pre-match meals once they reach Reserve level. One aspirational target as they progress through the levels here.
Q – Rangers4Me – How good did it feel for the staff and the youngsters to win the Alkass Cup at first time of asking with predominantly youngsters? How impressed were you with their maturity and how far can Nathan Young-Coombes progress?
A – It’s the performance that is the most important aspect, we knew it would be difficult given the levels of opposition we would face. But credit has to be given to the players. Now we are at a point where it is normal for the players to play against teams of that quality.
At this stage it is difficult to say how far he Nathan progress but even this early he has shown up very well and has settled in to the club as if he had been here for a while.
It also shows that no-matter the age of the players they will get opportunities when they are deserved.
Q – Dan G – Were the players able to play their normal game despite the step up in quality compared to domestic opposition?
A – For the last 3 or 4 years the club have committed to the best v best programme, which has given players throughout the academy the opportunity to be challenged at the highest possible level.
The best v best programme has been UK, European and international so it is normal for us to be facing clubs of these levels
Q – Scott – What progression have you seen in the boys in the last year?
A – Progression can be judged in different ways. However, we have seen a number of players push into Graeme Murty’s reserve squad and play on a regular basis.
Josh McPake and Dapo Mebude have also earned opportunities to train and be part of first team squads.
We feel these are the best barometers to judge progression.
Q – Rossco – What other international tournaments to the youths have planned over the next 12 months and how beneficial are they to their development?
A – We think these tournaments have a huge part to play in players’ development. Throughout the whole academy we target 240 cross border/international games and we have exceeded that number this season.
At the end of this month the under 16 squads travel to Abu Dhabi and the reserve squad travel to Hong Kong in May.
Q – Coop – What’s different in the approach Rangers take to youth teams when compared to other teams?
A – It’s difficult to compare against other teams however, player development is at the centre of our process. Every player has their own plan which is driven jointly by the player and the staff to ensure clarity.
That plan involves areas such as player targets, individual analysis and transition plans amongst others. Whilst continuing to develop them within a team environment and challenging them against the best opposition.
Q – Laudrup’s Hair – How has the approach changed since the new management team started?
A – The manager has probably come in and seen a programme that has been working well and as a result has provided a lot of support.
He and his staff has shown a lot of interest in what the academy is doing. For example the first team watched the Al Kass semi-final and final in full.
And the manager sent a message of support to the players before the final.
Q – Garry – What do you think is the main thing the players have learned from the tournament win?
A – The exposure, there was a lot of media interest. Having to speak to the media, flash interviews immediately after full time was new and challenged them in a different way.
The support, not only from back home but from the Doha and Qatar Rangers Supporters Clubs also increased expectations in a different way.
On a football level, showing belief in their own ability to go against top level opposition and show we are more than comfortable in that environment.
Finally they learned via implementing our game model that Scottish teams can win playing with a style designed to dominate the ball. In all our games we had higher possession stats than the opposition.
Q – CoulibalyFacts – How has Young-Coombs settled into the club? Is targeting players from top English sides a strategy of the club given we can give a more visible pathway to the first team than our EPL counterparts?
A – The pathway the club can provide we believe will be attractive to other top players from England. Nathan could be the first of many.
Since 2002, RYDC profits have been directed to Rangers Football Club’s youth programme – with almost £8 million provided so far – and the RYDC logo featured on the under-17’s strips throughout the Al Kass tournament.
And in January, Academy Head Craig Mulholland and youth graduate Glenn Middleton accepted an RYDC donation of £400,000.
For full details on RYDC’s growing portfolio of products – the re-launched Rangers Pools, Rangers Lotto, Rising Stars, Scratchcards, Stadium Bricks and the Youth Members Club – visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4914.