Hazlehead Academy is proud to be an SFA Performance School. Through this connection, groups of students attend the school from across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire and receive additional coaching from Stuart Glennie, Regional Elite Performance Coach for the SFA. Around this time of year, many young people apply to join this Performance group in a series of trials taking place between January and April. The link to applying for this opportunity can be found here.
Kyle Irvine has agreed to answer some questions to help give some insight into the SFA Performance School.
When did you start playing football?
When I was around 4, playing in the back garden.
Why did you choose to become a goalkeeper?
When I first started playing football, it was as an outfield player. However, my dad was a bit of an inspiration as he was a goalie and had trials with Highland League teams, this convinced me to try goalkeeping at the age of around 8.
In addition to requiring a different set of physical skills, goalkeeping also requires a particular mentality; you need to always be aware, to be a good communicator, and to have high levels of concentration.
What is your best footballing moment?
I played for Aberdeen U12’s in a tournament in Venlo, Holland in 2015. On one of the days, I was given the ‘man of the day’ award. There were some great teams competing in this tournament including Chelsea.
How did you become involved with the SFA programme?
I started playing for Aberdeen at the age of 9. Whilst there, I heard another goalkeeper, Zack Ellis, talking about the SFA programme and how it was a really good opportunity. I decided that I would give it a go when the opportunity arose.
After applying, there is a first trial for boys who don’t play for a pro-club. The players who are picked are then joined by the pro-club players in a second trial. After this, the successful group have parent interviews before being offered a place.
How does it affect your school week?
During the week, I get out of a certain number of classes to receive coaching with Stuart Glennie, SFA Coach. Then, on a Thursday after school, I catch up with the work that I have missed. This can be challenging at times, but it is ok once you get into a rhythm.
I train with Aberdeen three times per week and then have a game at the weekend. These games are often down near Edinburgh or Glasgow.
What kinds of experiences have you had as part of the SFA programme that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
One of the big reminders we are given is to treat everyone with the same respect as you would give your SFA Coach.
Through coming to Hazlehead Academy, I have made friends both through the SFA Programme and also through other classes.
I have been at two workshops recently; the first one was a lady who came in to talk about responsible use of Social Networking, and the second one was a talk by Neil Mackintosh from SFA on having the right mindset. He was explaining that you should be looking to have a growth mindset where you accept mistakes will be made and learn from them, rather than a fixed mindset where you are afraid to make mistakes and always want to look like the best.
Any downsides to the SFA Programme?
You need to be willing to commit a lot of effort to your training, to keeping up with your school work, and to the programme – and you have to accept that you will not have the time to get out with friends as much as you might have liked.