Jags launch Thistle Weir Youth Academy
Partick Thistle have announced they are setting up the Thistle Weir Youth Academy – with the help of £750,000 from Euromillions’ winners and Jags fans Chris and Colin Weir.
Gerry Britton, a former player and manager of Partick Thistle, will run the academy which will be based at Firhill but stay at “arms’ length” from the club. Thistle say the aim is to create a professional pathway to football for 120 elite players, while offering the chance to play the game for enjoyment and fitness to up to 1000 boys and girls.
Thistle Weir Youth Academy director Britton – who previously combined his job as a solicitor with his Jags role as head of youth development – said: “This is a chance 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 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.”
There will initially be around 400-500 boys and girls, from the age of 5 years old, joining the Thistle Weir Youth Academy to play football for fitness and fun. But there will be opportunities for talented youngsters to move into the elite teams.
The club’s existing youth development set-up features six teams – with 20 boys in each – who train three nights a week. But as a result of the new academy, are to be offered a high level package similar to that given to first-team pros such as coaching, physio support and nutritional advice. And the academy’s scouting team will be identifying local players to join the development programme immediately.
Firhill chairman David Beattie said: “In recent years, 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.”
For the Weirs – who also gave hometown Junior side Largs Thistle £750,000 to create a new pitch and training facilities – this was another proud moment.
Colin 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 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 and wish the Thistle Weir Youth Academy well for the future.”
Pic: Colin Weir, left, with Colin Beattie