Stark Choice

C:WindowsTempphp8A58.tmpThe SFA have confirmed the appointment of Billy Stark as a national youth team coach taking over from Donald Park on 1 July, and will primarily take charge of the Under-19s in addition to his involvement in the Performance department’s various coach education programmes. Stark is a vastly experienced and widely-respected figure within the Scottish game, who was most recently in charge of Lowland League side East Kilbride but previously spent six years with the SFA as Under-21 coach before stepping down in November 2014.  Perhaps just as well known for being the late Tommy Burns’ trusted right-hand man, he managed Greenock Morton, St Johnstone and Queen’s Park in his own right.

Stark said:  "
I’m delighted to be back. It was a bit out of the blue but I am really appreciative of the opportunity and grateful to Malky Mackay.  I’m looking forward to taking the Under-19s and involving myself with the other work carried out by the Performance department.  Donald did a great job and it’s my hope to pick up where he left off.  I feel like I’m a better coach now than I ever was. Experience does that for you and I want to use what I’ve learned in a productive way.  I think it’s important to say that the club’s work hard to develop the players and there is a lot of excellent work being done.  What I – and we – have to do is make sure we give the boys a good experience when they join up with the international team.  It always filled me with pride to see younger players I’d worked with go on to achieve full honours with the national team – like Leigh Griffiths, who was in my first Under-19 squad."

Stark is delighted to be part of a team that includes SFA Performance Director Malky Mackay and fellow national youth team coaches Brian McLaughlin and Scot Gemmill. He went on: "
Brian and Malky were players at Celtic when I was assistant manager to Tommy, then I signed Brian for St Johnstone.  Brian does a super job with the Under-17s and, having known him as a young player, it comes as no surprise because I always thought he was an intelligent players who would make a good coach if he could find a way of sharing his knowledge.  Malky’s a doer. He makes things happen and he’s in a hurry to improve Scottish football, which I like.  He’s a people person and I think we can see the benefits of that with the improved relationships with the clubs.  I also remember getting Scot started with the Scottish FA initially. I met him up at Stirling Albion when I was watching a youth game. It was the second or third time I’d seen him.  He was such a football obsessive that he’d rented a flat and was taking in as many games as he could, so I made sure to get him involved in the setup and the rest is history.  I actually signed the Scottish FA’s new chief executive, Ian Maxwell, too. I took him to St Johnstone and he stood out because he was intelligent – which goes against the stereotype that surrounds footballers.  Scottish football is a small wee world but I’m happy to see how far they’ve all come and how they’ve progressed to take on leadership roles."

Mackay was pleased to be able to add a coach of Billy’s calibre to his staff and explained the thinking behind the decision. He said: "
With Donald Park’s decision to step down, obviously we were facing up to losing someone who has real experience in the game and is widely respected.  I’m delighted that we’ve managed to acquire the services of Billy Stark who, I believe, is one of the best coach educators in the country.  His vast experience as a manager, an assistant manager and a coach educator will be a real asset to us and I am delighted to welcome him back to the Scottish FA.  The initial conversation we had was very positive. Billy was excited when I laid out the plan to come in as one of the national youth team coaches as part of our Performance department.  I know Billy has played a big part in the development of some of the country’s best players and I’m looking forward to the next crop getting the benefit of his expertise."
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