Wednesday 4th February 2015

YOU know what they say, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. In Mark Spalding’s case, he certainly falls into the industrious category.

As we featured last month, Spalders is the club’s technology genius, and now, following the departure of Colin Nish, he’s been handed the responsibility of running the club’s development (U20s) team.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” said Mark.

“I’ll still be working with the first team but I now have an added focus.”

Richie Salveta, who himself was in Sons news with his appointment as head of youth will be working with Mark.

“Richie will continue with 20s. It’s important that we have continuity,” confirmed Mark.

“When it became clear that Colin was moving on, the Manager spoke to me about the idea for me to take over the 20s whilst continuing my role with the first team.

“It was something that appealed to me immediately.”

Mark holds a UEFA A licence and is very keen to use his skills to help get the conveyor belt of talent flowing to the first team.

“I believe the new structure with myself and Richie working with 20s can help on two levels.

“The first is ensuring we make use of the pathway from the YDI teams, allowing smooth transition to the development squad.

“Secondly my involvement with the first team is important as it will allow me to analyse players knowing the required level that they need to reach, but also knowing the characteristics and qualities what the manager looks for in players.”

A graduated route where players get to know the ‘Dumbarton Way’ is something that Spalding wants to introduce and nurture.

He continued : “To aid with moving players to the top of the Dumbarton pathway, the 20s provision will mirror that of the first team in various areas such as training, preparation, playing philosophy, systems of play, player roles and responsibilities.

“This can be easily achieved through my work within the first team coaching staff.

“This is common practice at many clubs and will ensure that when players do make that step up they will do so to an environment which will be familiar to them, allowing them to perform and be further prepared to raise their standards higher.”

All very positive indeed. From the existing squad, are there any players who are ready to break through? Mark answers candidly.

“First impressions are good.

“Colin (Nish) and Richie have worked very hard over the last 18 months with the squad and that is evident.

“We have a very young squad of players; however they have shown a willingness to develop individually and as a team, and I look forward to using this enthusiasm to help each player to develop to their fullest.

“Before taking over I knew the majority of players having worked with a few in the first team.

“Donald McCallum, Keir Whitefield, Daniel Lightbody and Josh Lumsden have all featured during the season.

“Many 20s players played in the friendly against Carlisle in pre-season so some already have had a taste of what is required for them to make the step up even if they are not there yet.

“It’s our job to develop them in order to give them the best chance to make that step.

“I have been very fortunate in previous roles that I have had success in assisting in the development of young players and I understand the process which they have to go through.

“The reason I use the word assist is that I understand that there isn’t ever just one person responsible for how a player progresses.

“There are many people that guide and shape the development of a young footballer before I get to work with them at the 20s level.

“This includes parents, family, boys club coaches, school teachers, YDI coaches and the Head of Youth.

“My role will be developing these players further in various areas such as technical ability, tactical awareness and understanding, mental preparation/strength through appropriate physical training.

“Combining all those areas together with the grounding they receive before moving into the 20s squad will assist them for the progression into the first team.”

Alan Findlay

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