The Braves are delighted to announce the birth of our new youth set up. As well as watching our Edusport Academy teams play in the U20s Development League and U23s in the South of Scotland League, we have expanded. We will now welcome our new U16 and U19 squads to the Caledonian Braves set up.
The U19 squad will compete in the Central Scotland FA league, playing on a Saturday. The U16s will compete in the Lanarkshire Football Development Association, with matches taking place on Sunday afternoons.
We caught up with manager Ricky Waddell to explain how this will work going forward.
When the club was changing into the Caledonian Braves, was one of your thoughts to create a local youth set up underneath the first team?
Definitely, especially when we moved to Alliance Park, North Lanarkshire is a hot-bed for youth football at many levels. Myself and Chris spoke about at length about getting out into the local community and we think there is no better way to do that than having youth levels underneath our first team.
Do you think coming into the second season it was important to implement this now and create a local backbone for the club with a youth system?
Yes, we formed a partnership with our U19s last year, it became really strong, they had a great year and it started a local pathway for us. If we tie that in with our Edusport Academy players it was starting to create competition underneath the first team to try and progress.
We’ve tied in with a U16s team which means we’ll now have a Caledonian Braves Academy U16s, U19s, the Edusport Academy who will make up our U20s and U23s in the South of Scotland League. Between all of that I think it will be really exciting. It is really unique as no one else will have a pathway like ours.
We will eventually expand to more ages but we want to take this slowly and do things in the right way.
Talking about Edusport Academy how will that link in? Does it make more special because at all ages we will be able to mix our local youth with our French youth players?
Exactly, I don’t know any club that has that tie in with different languages and cultures. For the Scottish and French players I think it will be fantastic for all.
Whilst there doesn’t look like there will be a reserve league, we will be forming a reserve team that will give the chance for all members of youth set up to be involved with and something for them to play for. The will be playing against professional teams around Scotland which will be an opportunity to see these players at a level where they will be tested and to show us the progression.
Do you think it will be beneficial to play with the French players from the Academy? Being able to play with different players with a different style of play?
One of the things with the Edusport Academy is they don’t always realise how much they learn specifically in style of play. Many of them have gone on to progress really well. It’s always about great to think about the development to get into the first team whether that be from the Edusport or Braves Academy, it will be exciting to see it flourish.
We also spoke to the coaching and playing staff from both squads. Watch their Braves TV interviews, in addition to Ricky's thoughts, below.
Youth players & coaches interview
Ricky Waddell interview