Allan McManus: Thank you to SMISA members

Allan McManus: Thank you to SMISA members

SMISA members currently make a huge contribution to the future of our club - since the summer 30% of our surplus income has been made available to the club’s Youth Academy. We are proud to be helping develop the next generations of Saints talent, and are keen to make sure our members know the positive impact your money is making. So club Academy Director Allan McManus has written the article below where he explains where that money has been used to date:

Hello and a happy new year to all our SMISA members from everyone connected from the academy.

From a personal point of view I cannot thank everyone enough for the continued support that our academy receives on an ongoing basis from everyone connected with SMISA. Although the financial support we receive is nothing short of incredible, I also have to acknowledge the level of interest and moral support and positive feedback that myself and staff receive on a daily basis.

It is clear everyone is right behind our academy and love to see some of our best young prospects taking to the pitch wearing that first team jersey. The academy has grown significantly over the last five years. When I joined the club we had only two full time members of staff. As it currently stands, we have eight full-time members of staff and approx. another 30 part-time staff members.

The growth is there for everyone to see. I am not shy in saying we have some of the most educated and talented members of staff in the country working within their current field in the academy. That means we have a better opportunity in creating the best learning environment possible to allow our young players to develop and flourish.

Recent strides have been made to take the club to the highest tier of academy football and we are the first club to introduce a full-time Head of Club Wellbeing and Development with Michelle Evans coming on board. This is a huge statement in our progression and growth at the football club.

The club have been very vocal in wanting our academy to be competing as one of the best in the country. A great challenge for everyone connected within the academy and it's a challenge myself and all the staff believe we can achieve.

However, we cannot achieve this on our own. This requires a lot of hard work, joined up thinking and collaboration from everyone connected with our football club to make sure we are all aligned with the same vision to take the academy to the next level. Without that collaborative effort then it will be very difficult to achieve.

I want to make sure everyone connected with SMISA knows you are all welcome to come along to the academy to see what we do. We are an open book and want everyone to understand the workings behind the scenes, that we have to work towards strict criteria set by the SFA.

We believe many of our members will have ideas that we haven't thought about that may help us continue to grow. The vast majority of supporters only see the end product of one of our young players making his debut, however we firmly believe it is very beneficial everyone understands the process behind the scenes that gets these young players into the first team.

To run a program of this magnitude costs a lot of money and we are very fortunate the club invest substantially long term to keep growing and improving and hopefully this means we have more young players breaking into the first team, the national squads and potentially being sold further down the line to huge clubs.

The substantial ongoing amount SMISA members have provided the academy recently allows us to invest in the players themselves. It allows us to give them better experiences for their development and better equipment to use for training.

Some of the investment so far has been used for the following:

- two buses hired to take four teams down to play Shrewsbury town at Lilleshall training centre;

- one bus hired to take two teams down to play against Newcastle and Sheffield Utd in a mini tournament in Newcastle;

- 20 brand new footballs for each squad within the academy (eight) for the new season;

- portable pop-up goals to allow us to develop futsal games at indoor facility at Renfrew High;

- new dugouts for the training facility at Ralston (the SMISA logo will be prominent on them);

- state-of-the-art lighting system which develops the players ability to scan and retain information in training;

Moving into the new season, we are looking at some of the following to give our players some great experiences of playing against some of the best (covid depending). We would envisage a third of our funding to be utilised on trips like the ones below, which the players get so much from:

- several squads traveling to play Leeds Utd at their training ground;

- several squads traveling to play Man City at their training ground;

- two squads traveling to a tournament in Montpellier to play against some of the best in Europe;

As the academy continues to expand, we will continue to look for new ways to allow us to grow. We are open to new ideas, there will be members who can help or provide ideas from their own skill set and life experience.

Some of our blue-sky thinking ideas would include the following and we welcome any advice/support.

- access to new/additional training facilities (asset transfer, collaboration)

- new portacabins at Ralston training ground to provide more space.

- venues for annual academy player of the year dinner (sponsorship etc).

As you can see from the above, we want to take the academy to a whole new level and we want everyone connected with SMISA and the club to feel they are playing a big part in doing so. Once again I would like to say a huge thank you for all your continued support and I look forward to speaking with as many of you as possible in the near future.

Allan McManus