GSR Central Academy achieve a unique treble

Through an innovative partnership model, GSR Central Academy provide pathways for Scholarships to the USA for eight players.

For many young footballers, the dream is to play football at the highest level. It is all too well known how difficult that journey is and only very few make it to the top of the game. This permeates its way down to the very grass roots level of the game where that sole focus can often eliminate the huge potential in all areas of life the game can provide.

However, GSR Central Academy, a 2005 team based in Kippen, have recently concluded a journey that have seen them open doors to opportunities on and off the field for all of their players through taking a different and unique approach.

Working in partnership with Global Sports Recruitment (GSR), the academy has been able to mix football development with education to provide scholarships to America for 8 players in the coming year (4 in 2023, 4 in 2024). For the remaining players in the squad, they have now been given the opportunity to progress in football by joining the squad at Cambusbarron Rovers FC in the Caledonia Championship next season.

About GSR

GSR are the World’s Leading Sports Recruitment Agency, providing talented young athletes from the UK, Ireland and around the world with an exclusive opportunity to pursue an academic and athletic career.

David McPherson, former professional football player and founding member of GSR, was committed to the idea from the start, becoming president of the Central Academy:

The idea came about after a number of discussions with Paul around the lack of opportunity for players who get released from Academy football and find themselves with no club and no footballing prospects. It was a no-brainer to put something like this together that offers them a chance to continue in the sport they love along with an opportunity to study in the USA. it has been a personal pleasure watching the GSR Academy boys develop over the past 4 years. They have matured into fine young athletes and the ones who have chosen the USA pathway have an exciting time ahead. We all look forward to hearing about their individual adventures. Massive thanks must go to Paul Goodwin for setting it up. He has worked tirelessly for the benefit of youth football development. I hope we can do something similar with the girl’s game.

David McPherson, former professional football player and founding member of GSR

Pursuing a Sports Scholarship in USA is not all about sport. Academics are as equally important, if not more! Critical to the scholarship process was academic attainment and David played a pivotal role working with the players to ensure they were achieving the required grade point average for the University/College of choice. Critical to this success was the buy in of players, families, and schools. All of whom seen the benefit and positive impact the Central Academy process had on teams’ players.

Football development

GSR Central Academy played in the Central Scotland Football Association League. Under the management of Stirling University Masters student Mark Carroll. The team trained hard twice per week and all players were committed to the team goals which led to great success. In 2022 the team won the prestigious Blackpool Cup against teams from Northern Ireland, England, and the Republic of Ireland.

In their final year, the team secured promotion with a second-place finish in the Central Scotland Football Association League Division B. A brilliant cup run nearly topped off their journey with a perfect finish, unfortunately coming up just short in the final.

The second half

GSR Central Academy finished with a celebration and awards ceremony on June 6th
at Stirling County Cricket Club. It ends an incredible journey that many were not sure where it would take them in 2019 when the team were set up. Reflecting on the journey, Club Secretary Paul Goodwin shared:

When we set up in 2019, we had no idea if we would get to this point where we can reflect that we have 8 players graduating from our Academy to go to Universities in the USA, we also have two others who are seriously considering. It is a huge achievement that we are very proud of. More importantly for us in the often-difficult world of football development teams we have not had any disciplinary issues with any of our players or parents complaining about what we do. Their enthusiasm and endeavors have matched the boys on filed successes.

Club Secretary Paul Goodwin

For two of the players who have now successfully secured scholarships to America, the second half of their journey is now beginning and credit the support and opportunity to their time with the academy.

The past 3 seasons have been great at GSR Academy. We have been a really successful team and won trophies. Mark, Paul, and Logan have been great coaches and we have always trained and played at a high-quality level. The GSR Agency, have been really impressive and have supported us throughout the full recruitment process (March-May). The experience of the client matches in Edinburgh and Glasgow were great and I even visited Malaga in Spain for a client match to collate footage.

Ben Mitchell- Bryant and Stratton College in Rochester, New York (studying business)

It has shown me that there are lots of ways to keep playing football whilst also studying at the same time and UK University isn’t always the route. I couldn’t have got more help from coaches, Dave, and Simone to try and perform at a high standard daily and motivate me to keep pushing every day. I have been regularly challenged by setting goals for myself and evaluated by the coaches on a regular basis.

Callum Scott- University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (studying physical education)

GSR Central Academy now leave a legacy for all of the young people who played and progressed within the team over their four years. Whether that be the next step in America, continuing the football journey at Cambusbarron Rovers FC, or those who now progress to University, College, apprenticeships and more in the UK.

Beyond that, they leave a legacy of the potential for sport to inspire, motivate, educate, and achieve in all areas of life. There is the potential for many clubs to learn from the GSR Central Academy experience for their own players. Asked if they had advice for young people who may want to pursue something similar in the future, Ben replied:

They definitely should! If you study hard and work hard in football, then you would have a great opportunity to go away. It’s a great opportunity to study, carry on playing sports at a high level and travel to the other side of the world. I would have to recommend Global Sports Recruitment who have helped me through everything from the moment I have signed with them and have connected me with multiple schools all across America before I committed.

Ben Mitchell- Bryant and Stratton College in Rochester, New York (studying business)

GSR Central Academy have worked with Active Stirling and ClubSport Stirling throughout their journey. Community Activation Officer Christopher McKenna noted:

The club have done an incredible job in providing a truly unique club experience for their participants. It has been a pleasure to support their work and learn about their approach and links with GSR & the local High School. We are excited to continue the legacy of the Central Academy by continuing to share their model and opportunities with schools, clubs, and community groups. In particular Affiliate clubs of ClubSport Stirling who may be able to adopt similar practices across sports.

Christopher McKenna, Community Activation Officer - Active Stirling
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GSR Central Academy - Case Studies

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