New Initiative - Future Saints


At St Mirren Football Club we have a long tradition of rearing our own players from the youth level to a full blown professional. Even though the Club has still maintained this tradition there is no argument that the numbers involved has dropped off as over the last couple of decades the game in general has gone in a different direction.

SMiSA - the St Mirren Independent Supporters' Association - have stepped forward to form a partnership with the Club that is hoped will kick-start the conveyor belt of talent that we witnessed in days gone bye.

This partnership is called 'Future Saints' and for David Longwell, St Mirren's Head of Youth Development, it is a big step in the right direction.

He said, "We have come together with SMiSA and came up with an initiative called 'Future Saints'. The target is that through sponsorship and the raising of funds we can develop the players of the future.

"The funds will be used for things like new equipment and coaching education for the coaching staff.

"The reason the partnership have called it the 'Future Saints' is that while the young kids presently within the programme will benefit from the partnership with SMiSA so will kids who come into the programme in the future.

"With all that in mind, it means that kids that are going to make it through to the first team later on will give the supporters a feeling of ownership as they helped to raise money for the youth development programme."

Talks had been going on between the Club and SMiSA for quite a while and it all resulted with the initiative kicking-off earlier this week when SMiSA donated £3,000 to get the ball rolling.

David confirms that this donation has already been made good use of: "SMiSA have had a number of meetings at St Mirren with myself, assistant youth development coach, Frazer Robertson and General Manager, Brian Caldwell.

"The end result is that SMiSA have come into partnership with us for the 'Future Saints' initiative and have made an initial donation of £3,000.

"The £3,000 will go towards kit and equipment for the youth development - we have already brought in balls for next season, new bibs and markers - this will really help to fund part of the programme with the young kids we are developing at Ralston.

"This will be an ongoing partnership and sponsorship between SMiSA and St Mirren Football Club which from our point of view is a great plus point as it gets the supporters on board as they help to generate much needed funds for the future."

Now that the partnership is up and running plans are now afoot to get events in place with two major ones due to happen before the end of the summer.

David explained, "SMiSA and St Mirren are working together to promote the Club in a positive manner and we already have a few things in the pipeline.

"As part of the ongoing partnership we will be having an 'Open Day' which will take place before the start of the new season, then at the start of the new season we will have a 'Race Night' where supporters can come along and support the event and have a good night at the same time.

"Dates will be announced for both of these events once we have confirmation and all monies that will be generated from them will go straight towards youth development.

"This much needed 'support' from the supporters will be very beneficial down the line so it would be great that fans could see what we are doing along with SMiSA by coming to the 'Open Day' and the 'Race Night' or any other fund-raising events we can arrange.

"We would also hope that fans could help out in any way that they can by helping to promote the events and to raise money."

The partnership is also keen to encourage other parties to get involved in the laying of the foundations of rearing our own talent for decades to come.

David said, "If there are other supporters who have businesses, we are actively looking for sponsorships for the Youth Academy at the moment. This could be sponsoring some of the teams or even part of the Academy.

"If anybody is interested they should contact us directly as we are very interested in trying to get other sponsorships down there at the Youth Academy. It would be great for the Club but it would also be a good opportunity for local businesses."

General Manager, Brian Caldwell is always keen to be involved in projects that involves the fans and he is happy to put his shoulder to the wheel for the partnership.

He said, "SMiSA have done a lot of good work with the Club over the years and we're delighted to carry it on through the 'Future Saints' initiative.

"The Club are now taking a change in direction as we look to develop our own talent pool of players from the youth development programme, our partnership with SMiSA will help greatly in trying to achieve that goal."

Manager Danny Lennon hasn't been at the Club long but he admits that youth development is close to his heart.

He said, "You can't stress the importance of youth development enough - this is something I learned quickly when I worked with Gretna's youth programme while I was at Raydale Park.

"It is important that everyone at St Mirren from the staff at the ground, the players and coaches, and the fans all feel part of the Club and I'm sure this initiative will help to strengthen that bond while at the same time making a huge investment in the Club's future."

John White of SMiSA is glad to see the Supporter's Trust being involved in a more pro-active way than of late and hopes that this initiative catches the imagination of the St Mirren supporters.

He said, "Since the demise of the various 'Saints Aid' events the fund-raising side of SMiSA has been relatively quiet and although everyone has been working behind the scenes to get the partnership with youth development up and running we are delighted to finally confirm this announcement.

"We are hoping that the response from all supporters to this venture will encourage enthusiasm for the 'Future Saints' initiative.

"Every St Mirren supporter knows the way ahead for the Club is to invest in youth development and we hope this partnership allows every supporter to contribute to the development either financially or in a practical involvement with their supporters trust and football club."

If anyone wishes to join the St Mirren Independent Supporters' Association or if they require any further information please click here or write to:

The St Mirren Supporters Trust
10 Deanston Avenue
East Renfrewshire
G78 2BP