Neil Mackintosh: We want to stop great players slipping through the net

THERE is no doubt that this is a timely piece of research which clearly demonstrates the impact the Relative Age Effect (RAE) is having on youth football in Scotland.

The Scottish FA has been aware of this phenomenon for some time – but now we can see it in stark, statistical terms it makes taking active steps to reduce that impact all the more important.

Already, the Scottish FA has introduced information and training on RAE in all coach education courses. If coaches look out for this, then the chance of real talent slipping through the net becomes less likely.

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Scottish FA and professional clubs have also changed the competition rules to allow players who are late developers to play down an age group, again to make sure that children born in the later parts of the year do not have a physical disadvantage.

Last year we also introduced futures squads for the 14, 15 and 16 age groups, which allow late developers to have experience at national level and in the future even play international games with other countries who have futures squads.

But our recognition of the RAE will not end there. This year the Scottish FA is introducing a Scout education course which will have RAE training as part of the course. 
We need every youth footballer in Scotland, whatever their birth date, to be able to reach their full potential.