Rutherglen Glencairn in call for age extension for under-21 teams

A local football team has called for age groups for their Under-21s team to be extended by a year.

Officials at Rutherglen Glencairn fear their younger players have missed out on nearly a year’s worth of skills and learning due to the impact of coronavirus.

The club’s youth sides fall under the amateur football category, meaning that they have barely kicked a ball since last March.

Glencairn’s senior side was able to resume playing for a spell in the autumn, before the latest lockdown closed the club down again.

However, club chiefs have greater fears regarding the Under 21s set-up, and believe that by the time restrictions are lifted many of their squad will no longer be eligible.

The Glens appeal has been backed by list MSP James Kelly, who has written to Florence Witherow, the chief executive of the Scottish Football Youth Association urging action.

Glens president Alex McArthur is delighted to have the backing of the MSP and said: “I’m pleased James Kelly is on board with our calls to extend the age group of Under-21s squads by a year.

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“The intermittent suspension of amateur football throughout the pandemic has left many young players having missed out on almost a full year of playing with their squads.

“The skills, experience and wider benefits of participation from time in the Under-21 squad is invaluable. It is a great shame so many players have been unable to experience their full time within their age group.

“Given the consideration being given to these factors in the lower age groups, the Scottish Football Youth Association must give consideration to doing the same for Under-21s squads.”

It is understood the Under-20s lowland league has submitted a request for the forthcoming 21/22 season and that the proposal has been ratified.

The SYFA is currently looking at extending the age group of Under-20s for a year.

Mr Kelly said: “Football clubs throughout the Glasgow region, such as Rutherglen Glencairn have strong Under-21s squads who, alongside their clubs, are assets to the communities that they represent. The involvement of youth players is invaluable to their physical and mental wellbeing.

“Sadly, as it stands many of the players within the Under-21 age group are likely to have exceeded the age criteria of their squad by the time amateur sport is given the green light to resume in Scotland.

“Having missed out on almost a full year of physical activity, as well as the social aspects of their participation, I believe moves should be made to ensure that these young players are able to make up for lost time.”

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