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The kids were fantastic, says ex-Rangers star after Thurso coaching weekend success


By Alan Hendry

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Children in the 5-8 age group along with the coaches at the Rangers Soccer Schools event hosted by Thurso Football Academy.
Children in the 5-8 age group along with the coaches at the Rangers Soccer Schools event hosted by Thurso Football Academy.

More than 70 youngsters were put through their paces by a pair of ex-Rangers and Scotland stars at a two-day coaching session in Thurso.

The Rangers Soccer Schools event was hosted by Thurso Football Academy at the Naver all-weather pitch where the guest coaches were former Scotland captain Colin Hendry and European Cup-Winners' Cup winner Derek Johnstone, both of whom were treble winners with the Ibrox club.

There was also an evening question-and-answer session on Zoom and £2100 was raised for the academy from an online auction and raffle squares.

Despite changeable weather, the training – held over the weekend of October 10/11 – was declared a great success.

Two of the children who caught the eye of the visiting coaches will be invited down to Rangers' elite soccer centre to take part in training once the restrictions allow.

Derek Johnstone said: "I had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. The kids were fantastic. Even though the weather was horrible on Saturday, that didn't dampen their spirits and I was impressed by the standard shown.

"The Zoom event was a first for me and it seems to have gone done well in these strange times we are going through. I'm looking forward to coming back up in the future."

Derek Johnstone and Colin Hendry with youngsters in the 9-14 group.
Derek Johnstone and Colin Hendry with youngsters in the 9-14 group.

The coaching was designed for youngsters aged from five to 14, split across morning and afternoon groups.

Thurso Football Academy's head of coaching Alyn Gunn said: "It was a very successful weekend which saw 72 children attending, £2100 raised and the Zoom Q&A completed.

"The weather on the Saturday was the only blight. It was a really cold, wet and windy day, but the kids battled on through out and didn't let it dampen their spirits.

"The Sunday sessions were great. The weather held, the sun shone for a minute and there was even an appearance from a rainbow. Some of the football on show was excellent and the children's efforts were of a high standard.

From left: Scott Edgar, Derek Johnstone, Richie Campbell, Colin Hendry, Alyn Gunn, Tom McKenna and Andy Gordon.
From left: Scott Edgar, Derek Johnstone, Richie Campbell, Colin Hendry, Alyn Gunn, Tom McKenna and Andy Gordon.

"It was a big weekend for the academy with hosting the football event as well as the Zoom Q&A. Thankfully it went down well with the public. The kids had a great time and a lot of money has been raised for the academy to be able to host future events like this.

"A lot of work went on behind the scenes to ensure that it could go ahead and that we were compliant with all Covid-19 regulations throughout, and particular thanks should go to High Life Highland – they have done a lot of work in the background to ensure that the facility is up to standard.

"Big thanks should also go to the young helpers from Thurso High School and academy coaches Richie Campbell and Tom McKenna for their help over the weekend, and to Martin Sutherland and his IT skills for the Zoom session.

"These events wouldn't have gone ahead without help from sponsors GDES, Robbie Fraser, Willie Lipka, Thurso Swifts, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and the Park Hotel – and thanks to the public for putting their trust in us."

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