Partick Thistle are to cash in on the generosity of two of their fans, Euromillions winners Chris and Colin Weir, by setting up a new youth academy with £750,000 they have provided to establish it.
The Thistle Weir Youth Academy (TWYA), based out of the club’s Firhill ground, aims to create a professional pathway to football for 120 elite players, while offering the chance to play football to up to 1000 boys and girls for enjoyment and fitness.
The club’s existing youth development comprises of six teams (of 20 boys in each) who train three nights a week. With the new academy, they will be offered a high level package similar to what’s on offer to first-team players – professional coaching, physio support, nutritional advice and all the benefits of sports science knowledge.
At community level, initially 400-500 boys and girls, from the age of five, will join TWYA to play football for fitness and fun. As they progress, there will be opportunities for talented youngsters to move into the elite teams; TWYA will also enable club scouts to spot young players and bring them on. The new academy will be run by Gerry Britton, former player and manager of Partick Thistle and now a solicitor, who had been combining his legal career with his role as head of youth development at the club.
The new academy’s scouting team will be identifying local players to join the development program immediately.
Chairman David Beattie said: “Partick Thistle has shown a strong commitment to youth development but we have been looking at ways to take that a step further by creating a youth academy. With the generous support of Chris and Colin Weir, we have been able to make that a reality.”
Britton added: “This is a chance for the Thistle Weir Youth Academy to give hundreds of kids the opportunity to get involved in football, for fun or by creating a path to professional football for others.
“There is a huge potential pool of talent out there and it’s going to be our job at the Thistle Weir Youth Academy to find youngsters and give them everything they need to become the professional footballers of the future that the club and the sport need.”
Colin Weir said: “As longstanding fans of Partick Thistle, we were aware of the club’s ambitions to create a new youth academy. What impressed us was that it wouldn’t just be for elite players but would also encourage local youngsters into football for the sheer enjoyment and fun of it.
“Having seen the club’s determination to get this project off the ground, we decided that as we were in a position to offer financial assistance, we wanted to help them achieve their dream. Chris and I are delighted to be working with the club in this way.”
The TWYA will be run at arms’ length from Partick Thistle Football Club, but trustees will comprise Beattie, Britton, director Greig Brown and general manager Ian Maxwell.