Published: 5th May 2020
Dundee United Football Club and Baldragon Academy are delighted to announce a new exciting partnership that will bring our elite level football academy in line with the most successful academies across Europe as part of the ongoing investment and growth under Chairman, Mark Ogren, and Sporting Director, Tony Asghar.
When the doors to the school reopen, Baldragon Academy will welcome eleven of our brightest prospects providing them with over 1,280 additional hours of individually tailored performance education over a four-year programme while continuing their studies.
Having already achieved Club Academy Scotland 'Elite' status last October, Our Academy at Baldragon will be the next phase of our Performance Strategy aimed at developing future generations of homegrown talent who will succeed at both club and international level.
Our Academy at Baldragon pupils will benefit from their very own Individual Performance Plan focusing on enhancing their own unique identity as a player every day. The programme will consist of specific Tactical Performance, Technical Performance, Physical Performance, Performance and Data Analysis, Mental Performance, Lifestyle and Nutrition sessions as well as constant education support to ensure they achieve off the pitch as well as on it.
Baldragon Academy will not only provide our pupils with state of the art facilities but will promote values aligned with our own culture of accountability, respect, humility and team-first. Under the leadership of Headteacher, Hugh McAninch, Baldragon Academy is a progressive and fast developing school. It will offer our pupils the best environment and support to achieve their long-term objectives, both on and off the pitch.
Academy Director, Andy Goldie said: "The creation of Our Academy at Baldragon signifies another significant milestone in our Performance Strategy and again highlights the importance of developing our own young players in the long-term sustainable success of our Club. The support and investment from the Chairman and Sporting Director has been incredible over the past fifteen months and this is another statement of intent highlighting the importance of developing our own players.
"Since coming into post, I have been closely evaluating all aspects of how we operate as an academy and having witnessed first-hand the vast benefits of the Scottish FA Programmes at Grange Academy in Kilmarnock and Braidhurst High in Motherwell in my previous role; it was evident this was the missing piece of the jigsaw for us to achieve our vision.
"Creating our own school programme will not only provide our young players with the additional hours of practice and support that their European counterparts benefit from, but it will allow us to deliver clear, consistent and coherent messages in line with their Individual Performance Plans throughout the week in training and games - in turn, helping develop players with an identity our fans can get excited about in the future.
"Of course, this will not guarantee automatic success or a linear pathway for these players however the quality of the staffing structure we have delivering the programme will ensure they have the support, resource and opportunity to improve every day at Our Academy at Baldragon.
"Despite training for an additional seven to eight hours per week, we have also managed to achieve our objective of shortening Our Academy pupils' days and allowing them to study, spend time with their friends or, no doubt some will, practice even more in the evenings which is something I have always felt strongly about.
"In terms of their education, we have made it clear that they will be Baldragon Academy pupils first and foremost however we will provide them with additional support to ensure they continue to achieve academically as well as in their football journey. Academic achievement is vitally important to us and will be continuously monitored throughout their four years in the programme.
"Having worked closely with Audrey May (Head of Service/Chief Education Officer at Dundee City Council), Hugh McAninch (Headteacher) and his staff throughout this process, it was clear that Baldragon Academy was the best match for us in terms of culture, values, environment and the opportunity to grow a successful programme and I look forward to sharing that success with them in the coming years."
Baldragon Academy Headteacher, Hugh McAninch said, "This is great news for the learning community of Baldragon Academy and it will be a privilege to work in partnership with the Dundee United Academy at our school.
"We look forward to welcoming our new pupils into the Baldragon community and to support their growth and development, not only as young football players but as responsible, confident and successful learners.
"While at this moment in time we are not clear about when schools will resume, I am thoroughly impressed by the strength and resilience that is being shown by our pupils and staff across our community during this challenging time."
Audrey May, Chief Education Officer, said: "This is a fantastic partnership between Dundee United and Baldragon Academy, and it will benefit not just the young people involved, but the whole school community. It will be an exciting development for everyone connected with Baldragon Academy."
The first intake into the programme will see the following eleven Academy players attend Our Academy at Baldragon: Calvin Beattie, Calvin Jamieson, Jamie Forrest, Rydnn McGuire, Stewart Lumsden, Dylan Barnett, Owen Stirton, Scott Constable, Finn Smith, Keir Bertie and Nairn Lowe.