MARCH is proving to be a busy time in Rangers Academy with many players participating in ‘best v best’ activity both for the club and their countries.
One of the fundamental principals in the new Academy project is to expose young Rangers players to as challenging a match programme as possible, and this has certainly been the case recently, with even more planned in the coming months.
At international level during the last week Rangers had Aidan Wilson, Kieran Wright, Zak Rudden, Matthew Shiels, Jamie Barjonas, Aidan McAdams and Glenn Middleton all playing in the under-19 Elite round of the European Championships against Holland, Germany and Norway.
The Scottish under-19s recorded an outstanding 2-0 victory against Holland, whilst at the same time Nathan Patterson and Dapo Mebude played for the under-17s in the Elite round, combining to score the winning goal for Scotland against Germany.
Serge Atakayi played for Finland under-19’s, with Danny Finlayson and Cammy Palmer playing for Northern Ireland under-19’s. Ryan Hardie and Liam Burt were called up to the Scotland under-21s, with Myles Beerman was playing for the Maltese ‘A’ squad.
In addition to our Development Squad’s European Games programme which saw matches take place against AEK Athens (4-1 win), Utrecht (3-2 win) and Brentford ‘B’ (3-0 loss) in March, many different age groups are continuing their development with games against European opposition.
The clubs under-11’s are in Spain for 7 days playing against top La Liga teams, with the under-12’s in Portugal and in the last eight of the tournament against some of the top club sides from all over Europe. The under-13 side is in Milan and will face the likes of Locomotiv Moscow and Inter Milan with ex-Rangers players Stephen Wright and Kevin Thomson on the coaching staff.
The under-16’s travelled to Turkey yesterday where they will play teams such as Torino and Galatasaray with ex-Ranger Gregory Vignal part of the coaching team – you can watch their day of travel HERE and go behind the scenes at training HERE.
Meanwhile, last week, the under-17s travelled to Tenerife to play a Canaries select team and La Liga side CD Tenerife with ex-Gers Peter Lovenkrands and Brian Gilmour in charge of that side.
Finally, the under-19s traveled to the St. Josephs tournament in France and David McCallum and Billy Kirkwood’s hoping to win their second tournament of the season having won the Copa Del Agatha earlier in the year beating Club Brugge in the final.
Head of Academy, Craig Mulholland said: “It is such an exciting time in the Academy with so many challenging games for our young Rangers players all over Europe.
“We set a performance indicator in our strategy of achieving more than 140 cross border fixtures for our players this season and we will smash this target with well over 200 games. This is fantastic, as it means our players are being taken out of their comfort zones and challenged to a level that we have not done before.
“These experiences are fundamental to our plan to produce a much higher quality of player for the first team. I was in Germany last week with the Scotland U19’s where we had seven Rangers players in the squad and it was fantastic to see them comfortably beat Holland, a nation renowned for producing exceptional talent.
“In Rangers Academy we now have more than 30 players from under-16 to under-21 who have represented their countries this year, more and more of which are at the older age groups. These international matches are part of the individual player plans we have for our ‘A’ players which details the experiences they require to best prepare them to get into our first team, stay there and compete at the top level.
“The tournaments are a key part of the games programme we are carefully designing for each age group and from our nine and ten year olds to our eighteen and nineteen year olds the learning they will undertake this week will be massive.
“They will experience different formations, playing styles, player behaviours, pitches and temperatures and will learn about the importance of regeneration and hydration between matches to ensure high performance levels in the games when fatigued.
“They will play against some of the top players in the world and it is important that they do so at this age as it will prepare them for when they hopefully represent Rangers in Europe at first team level and they have played against that quality of player before.
“They will also deal with the pressures and emotions of winning and losing in tournament football which some of our youngest will be experiencing for the first time. Most importantly putting our players in these challenging environments will play a massive part in producing more Ross McCrorie’s for the first team – it’s just a great time to be a player or coach in Rangers Academy.”
Still to come this season are a number of tournaments across the age groups in Germany (under-19s), France (under-17s), Northern Ireland (under-10’s); Germany (under-12s), Hong Kong, Austria (under-11s) where the different teams from the Academy will face teams such as Valencia, Stuttgart, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Spurs, Bayern Munich among many others.
Keep up to date with all the confirmed Development Squad matches HERE