“These are the people who keep our local football leagues alive.”

That was the message from East Renfrewshire Soccer Development Association (ERSDA) president Graham Vance after 150 volunteers gathered in Barrhead to further their own coaching skills, writes Niall Christie.

Held at Barrhead High School and run by the local association to support teams from across the area, the day’s coaching course provided people with the chance to learn from coaches working at the SFA and professional clubs in Scotland.

In attendance were the SFA’s Tommy Miller, John Gervaise and Tony Gervaise, as well as Morton and SFA coach Peter Dunn.

They provided tactical and practical sessions to participants, who ranged in age from 16 all the way up to 65.

The work done at these will have a transformational effect on football in East Renfrewshire, according to the ERSDA’s president.

Mr Vance said: “The day was tremendous. The whole thing went very well and there were a lot of top quality speakers.

“The coaches were all so receptive to what we were trying to do and really responded well to the tactical sessions we put on.

“It was absolutely Baltic, people turned up with four layers on. As it was so cold I think everyone was just looking to get as much out of the day as possible, so I can’t speak highly enough of the volunteers.”

Off the back of this day of learning and coaching practise, the benefits to those in East Renfrewshire in terms of sports development were obvious.

SFA estimates show that, between the 150 coaches who were at the Barrhead High School session at the end of February, nearly 200,000 hours of coaching will be provided for children and adults in East Renfrewshire.

As a result, they say that volunteers like those at youth and amateur clubs are saving the SFA, the local council and the Scottish Government more than £2million in sports funding over the next year.

Mr Vance added: “The effect that courses like this will have on children is fantastic. This is the kind of thing we are looking to build on over the next year.

“This is the first time I have been involved in these sessions but it has certainly had better feedback than we ever have before. We might even look to do this more regularly from now on.

“We have a lot of avenues that we can go down to teach kids, not just football. Things like combatting racism and drug abuse are topics that we can tackle as well, so these events can prove to be big money savers for the government in the long run.”