As the only University team to be included in the Scottish Professional Football League’s all-new national Challenge Cup, Stirling University Football Club’s preparations are well underway for the first game of the tournament.
The first XI are working hard ahead of their inaugural home game against Rangers under 20s on Wednesday, 10 August. Their opening game of the IRN-BRU Cup will be played in front of crowds at Forthbank Stadium in Stirling.
The new Challenge Cup, approved by Uefa earlier this year, sees teams from Wales, Northern Ireland, the Highland League, the Lowland League, and under 20s teams from each of the 12 Ladbrokes Premiership clubs, compete against one another for the first time.
Speaking ahead of the match, Coach Shelley Kerr said: “Playing in the Challenge Cup gives us an opportunity to test the players in an intensely competitive environment and will provide them with a real tough challenge.
“We always aim to provide the best environment for our squad, so they can develop as footballers and there’s no better way to do this than by playing in the most challenging setting.”
The club spent the summer recruiting new talent, welcoming new students to their ranks. Of those players coming to the University this year is first-year student Harvey Moyes who joins from a professional football career in Iceland and Josh Emmott who has just completed an apprenticeship with Morecambe Football Club in England.
“We have recruited very well over this year and last, bringing in some exciting young players who I’m sure will embrace the challenge faced with combining their academic work with enhancing their football talent”, Shelley added, “As a squad we are always learning - that’s what the programme is designed to do - and in particular we’ll be looking to test ourselves as a squad against a very difficult opponent.
“Our High Performance Football programme is designed to provide a holistic approach to the player’s development over a four-year period. At the end of the academic cycle, if I see the players graduate with an academic qualification and progress to playing at a higher level then I will be one happy coach.”
Stirling University Football Club has six teams, competing at varying levels from British Universities and Colleges Sport leagues to the Stirling and District RJM Sports Division Premier League and Scottish Lowland League. The University will this year offer up 24 scholarships to talented football players.
The game kicks off at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 10August at Forthbank Stadium.