East Kilbride Pirates youth team celebrate 10th anniversary
September 29th, 2020
This month saw the East Kilbride Pirates youth team celebrate their tenth anniversary!.
The first open training session for East Kilbride Pirates youth – then referred to as the junior team – kicked off on Sunday 26 September at Duncanrig Secondary School, with 16 players of the future hitting the astroturf to start running through the basics. Since then they’ve gone on to become a perennial powerhouse of youth contact football in the UK, notching up five back-to-back National Finals appearances and BritBowl National Championship titles in 2016 and 2018.
Veteran Pirates player Ross Templeton was appointed as the first ever Head Coach of the team, and he was ably assisted by coaches Brian Setchell and Jim Dorman. Giving a helping hand at the first session were quarterback Neil Baptie, then offensive team captain and offensive line veteran Robert Beveridge and then-Chair and offensive lineman Matthew Davies. The first session also had a special guest – as former Chairman Gavin Reid dropped by to wish good luck to the first Pirates’ first junior team since 1998.
Many of the new young players had taken the opportunity to come along and get involved after attending one of several taster sessions run at Calderglen and Duncanrig in conjunction with Active Schools.
The team would go on to enter what would then become the BAFA youth football league in 2011, competing against teams such as Edinburgh Coyotes (who went on to become Edinburgh Wolves youth), Clyde Valley Falcons, Glasgow Tigers, Inverclyde Phoenix and Highland Wildcats – the only other existing league team remaining from the Pirates’ youth team’s first year of competition.
The team’s first competitive outing was a friendly scrimmage against Glasgow Tigers on Saturday 7 May 2010 in Cambuslang. And their very first league competition took place on Saturday 28 May 2010 when they took on Glasgow Tigers, Edinburgh Coyotes and Inverclyde Phoenix at a tournament at the Jack Kane centre in Edinburgh. The team finished third overall with a 5-10 record – their results boosted by a surprise win-out of all three games in their very first tournament, a feat that was not to be repeated for some time.
In their first season the team wore white Reebok shirts previously belonging to the senior team, before getting the K.Noah uniform design they still wear to this day.
Our first ever Pirates youth awards was held on 7 October, and the inaugural winners were: Most Improved Player – Aaron Callaghan, Defensive Player of the Year – Liam McMillan, Offensive Player of the Year – Grant McMaster, Most Valuable Player – Callum Derrick.
Jim Dorman took over as Pirates Youth Team Head Coach in September 2012, when Ross Templeton stepped back to concentrate on his role of senior team Head Coach. Also coaching with the team in the early years was then club-vice chair and offensive lineman Neale McMaster, currently Great Britain Junior Head Coach.
Pirates youth players have progressed to great success throughout our organisation and Scottish university football teams since. DB Aaron Callaghan holds the unique honour of being the only Pirates youth graduate from the team’s first competitive squad in 2011 to still be playing senior football with the club, while roster-mate Douglas Alexander moved from playing to coaching, becoming our first Pirates youth graduate to coach the team he started playing with.
Other currently active EKP youth alumni at Pirates senior level including DB Declan Kelly, QB Sam Montgomerie, LB Ben Gallacher, RB Jack Cochrane, DL Michael Girvan and WR Fraser McDonald. Pirates youth and junior graduate and senior team Defensive Lineman Mark Stewart has gone on to play at Great Britain level and for the German Football League’s Potsdam Royals as well as being the first Pirates youth team graduate to be voted club Players’ Player of the Year by his peers.
With more Pirates youth players graduating to our junior squad, and others featuring in the the next class of rookies moving up to senior in 2021, the team continues to have a big role to play in the sustainability of our club. And with many more new players continuing to join up to play contact football with EKP youth, we’re looking forward to seeing what the next ten years have to bring!
photo from the last tournament of 2011
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