The club will add to their existing Under 17 team with an Under 20’s team to give further progression to the youngsters coming through the system.
The move, which has been planned for over a year has finally come to fruition and will be under the responsibility of Head of Youth Development, Dale Pryde-MacDonald. The Head Coach for the team will be former Brora Rangers, Clachnacuddin and Strathspey Thistle defender Mark McKernie. Due to injury, Mark has reluctantly had to hang up his boots but is excited by the opportunity to take on the role.
Dale said “We originally looked at this last season. In hindsight, we were probably fortunate we didn’t participate, it has allowed me to further plan and integrate this in to our programme and we have also had a management change in the middle too.”
“From my perspective it was essential that we got this team off-the-ground. We have seen some great young players come through the ranks in previous years with no progression so it was vitally important to retain those players and to build more local players going forward that can challenge in our first team in due course.”
First team boss, Ross Tokely was delighted and very supportive of the the news.
“Firstly I am excited with the news the club are fielding a team in the under 20s league this season and I give this my 100% support.
I feel the step up between the under 17s and first team is too big, so this allows a bridge for the young lads to progress and develop. The chance to train with the first team and with the rule we can play three overage players in the games I am sure they will pick good habits given by the more experienced players. I played under 20s and I learned so much from the senior pros but I want to see a hunger from each player to listen and learn.
Having been involved with youth coaching at ICT and Ross County I feel it is important we have an under 20s team attracting promising talent from the local area plus lads who have been released from Caley or County. I have been involved with the club for five years and with the exception of James Ross there has been no progression, and there has to be a pathway from the 20s to the first team.
I have no problem involving any young player into the first team as you would have seen last year with 16 year old Ross Munro playing 15 odd games for the team and my feeling is if they are good enough it does not matter the age. They must see they have a chance to progress into the first team which they will get from me as Brora Manager.”
On speaking of his appointment Mark McKernie felt it was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. “It was devastating facing the reality that my playing career was basically over. When I started looking at my options I contacted a lot of people and Dale was very keen to chat to me. We looked at a lot of things and when he offered me the position I was delighted - it just felt like to the right chance at the perfect moment in time.”
“Football has always been in my head and to be able to move in to coaching is ideal. It will give me the chance to share my knowledge and experience, and it will give the boys a chance to learn from somebody that has played at a range of levels within the Highland League. It’s an exciting challenge and one I’m really looking forward to.”
At this week’s Board Meeting at which the above was agreed John Young was given the role of liaison Director for teams beneath the A team.