West Lothian College is kicking off a pilot learning initiative with the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA).

In partnership the SYFA, the college will support the academic and football success of young people who are selected for the SYFA’s National Development Programme.

As education partner, the college will embed the Skills for Work Sport and Recreation qualification into the established National Development Programme, wrapping together education and player development.

Todd Lumsden, Sports Faculty Director at West Lothian College, said: “The SYFA National Development Programme is a well-established opportunity for players to gain representation at a national level. Players from all over Scotland take part in the year-long training and games programme. It is a privilege for West Lothian College to contribute to the player development strategy.”

The college will support the delivery and quality assurance of the qualification and the squad of 22 to 30 players will benefit from a blend of in-person and online learning.

West Lothian College Principal, Jackie Galbraith, added: “I am delighted that West Lothian College will be the education partner for this exciting initiative that enhances the SFYA’s National Development Programme. I have no doubt that the young players involved will benefit greatly from our innovative sports lecturers and I am excited to see the impact they will have.”

The SYFA has run the successful National Development Programme for more than 10 years, taking players from grass roots football clubs, to supporting their progress towards professional academy opportunities.

Florence Witherow, Chief Operating Officer from SYFA said: “Enhancing opportunities for young people participating in our National Development Programme is one of the Scottish Youth Football Association’s key objectives. For this reason, the partnership with West Lothian College is the perfect fit. Both organisations are committed to helping young people develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to adapt, think critically, and meaningfully contribute to society. We firmly believe that football can provide a whole range of useful and fully transferable skills that are valuable not just on the pitch but in everyday life and work as well.”

Mags Paterson, Head of Creative, Hospitality, and Sport at SQA said: “By including the Skills for Work Sport and Recreation award into the National Development Programme, West Lothian College, and the SYFA will give young players the opportunity to enhance their skill set and develop their knowledge of working in a sport environment, and provide them with a valuable qualification that could help them in the next phase of their education, training, or employment.”