A FOOTBALL school has launched a pair of new initiatives designed to build a brighter future for young people in northwest Glasgow.

Ryan Docherty and his On The Ball Academy (OTB) are launching two fresh projects whilst continuing with their pledge to bring 1,000 free hours of football training to the community in 2024.

An employability programme aimed at providing jobs for school leavers as well as a clothes collection initiative which has so far donated more than 40 bags of cold weather kit and boots to local children are the new schemes in the former Celtic hopeful's ever-expanding portfolio with OTB.

And the former Corpus Christi pupil admits his goal is to give the next generation more opportunities than he had growing up.

Ryan said: "Our mission is to support the community and to transform lives through football.

"Through our dialogue with parents and teachers, it’s become clear that things are more difficult than they used to be - people are struggling, and young people can’t find jobs.

"Meanwhile, kids grow so quickly, so it becomes difficult to keep them in clothes that fit, especially during winter."

A fifth-year pupil at Knightswood Academy, Ben McConalogue, recently completed a training programme designed by OTB, and is now coaching with the team, being supported with coaching qualifications along the way.

“When I was at school, I didn’t have a pathway into coaching;  I want to change that for others," Ryan continued.

"Many sacrifice their education in pursuit of a professional career and often succumb to issues relating to mental health or addiction when they don’t make the cut. 

"We’re giving a pathway for young people to stay in the game and make positive contributions to society.

“A lot of circumstances prevent kids from making that next step. We aim to develop fantastic footballers, but most importantly, we give young people the confidence and self-belief I lacked when I was in the system.”

As a younger man, Ryan harboured dreams of making it at the highest level having played in the same Celtic youth team as Aiden McGeady and Charlie Mulgrew, under the tutelage of the legendary Tommy Burns.

However, after spells at Dundee United and Queen’s Park, Ryan gave up on his footballing dreams to dedicate his life to improving the lives of young Scots through football.

While coaching amid the cost-of-living crisis, Ryan has witnessed the challenges facing young people in Glasgow: poverty, lack of employment, and access to warm clothing.

Clydebank Post: Ryan wants to empower youmgsters through footballRyan wants to empower youmgsters through football (Image: Colin Mearns)


Ryan, who has earned a UEFA A License and UEFA A Elite youth licence, has embarked on a worldwide exploration of footballing cultures to enhance his knowledge.

He continued: “Croatia had the biggest impact on me.

"They’ve had real success — they’re recent World Cup finalists – but that has come despite serious poverty, because they focus on building enthusiasm and humility.

"They don’t have the best infrastructure but a desire to play and a love for football – that costs nothing.

"That perspective is central to our approach. 

"Meanwhile,  Futsal, which I introduced after a visit to Madrid, has really helped enhance the abilities of the young people at the academy.”

The academy serves as a feeder club to some of Scotland’s biggest professional outfits, with 25 of its members going into the professional environment at clubs including Rangers and Celtic.

Chelsea and Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert is a graduate.

Ryan, who is also first-team coach at Pollok,  recently unveiled plans to widen its impact through a cutting-edge football facility right at the heart of the community it serves, at the old Danes Drive Bowls Park in Scotstoun.

The existing plan includes Glasgow's first nine-a-side pitch, designed to empower the local community with access to football even during the Scottish winter.