STEWART ROBERTSON is delighted that a new Academy strategy implemented in 2015 is bearing fruit with Rangers enjoying success on the pitch at youth level in 2018/19.
In an exclusive, end-of-season interview for RangersTV, the club’s managing director has watched on with pride as the club’s Academy players at several age groups got their hands on silverware both at home and abroad.
Robertson said: “There was a new strategy implemented in 2015 and I think we are beginning to see the fruits of that now.
“It takes time and you would love to see it happen overnight, but the reality is that isn’t going to happen. You have to work at it and try to improve so many different aspects of what was happening.
“Craig [Mulholland, Head of Academy] and the guys who implemented the strategy have worked at it and flexed it when we have had to flex it.
“I think we are beginning to see that coming through with the Reserves winning the league, the 18s won the Alkass Cup and the 17s and 18s won the Youth Cup for the first time in five years as well as winning the league.
“The 16s won the CAS Cup Final as well, so we are beginning to see success at Academy level all the way through. The important part is, how do we give these guys a pathway through to the first team?
Craig and Mark have been working on the colt project, the B team project, that people will have read about. You look at Ajax and what has happened there, and I know that this season they are the high profile team. But if you look at the number of leagues in Europe where there are B teams, all the research shows you that actually by having B teams and having the boys playing against men, over time you will have a much better chance of bringing these guys into the first team.
“So hopefully we will see some movement on that in Scottish football. It might take a bit of time but the case I think is building for B teams and colt teams to come into the Scottish football leagues. We just need to find the best mechanism to make that happen.
“We have to do everything we can to give the boys the best chance to come through and have a career in football.
“There probably isn’t one template that is going to work for everybody but we’ve tried different things and we’ve tried to experiment over the last couple of years with the European Games Programme. Again, all the information we are getting back is that it has given the young players a better challenge than they would get by just playing in the Reserve League or the Development League.
“There will be different structures for different countries, but we are certainly going to experiment as much as we can and try different things, because if we don’t try different things we’re only going to get the same answers.
“Only by trying different things will we get different answers and we will give the boys the best chance to come through to the first team.”
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