Construction firm helps keep Scottish footballers fit during pandemic

CONSTRUCTION business The JR Group has teamed up with 121 Coaching to help keep Scotland’s lower league Scottish footballers healthy during the Covid-19 restrictions.

The initiative, led by former Motherwell player Bradley Halsman, who now runs 121 Coaching with business partner Andrew Robin, will offer free coaching for professional footballers until their seasons return in order to keep them on top of both physical and mental wellbeing.

John Horne, MD of The JR Group, is funding the venture from the Goals five-a-side base in Glasgow’s Shawlands area and it’s estimated several hundred players could be put through their paces by coaches including Montrose defender Cammy Ballantyne.

John said, “This is a cause very close to home, so we are delighted to be giving something back at this crucial time and funding the initiative which will benefit many young players uncertain of their future in Scottish football. My youngest son Evan plays with East Stirling and they don’t even know when they will resume training and playing again. I know how important it is to maintain a routine.

“Players such as Kris Boyd have led the way by establishing charities that focus on the mental wellbeing of players, as well as their physical conditioning. We’re delighted to play our part alongside Bradley and Andy and hope as many players as possible will access the facilities.”

Bradley Halsman of 121 Coaching added, “It’s a big commitment financially so it is great to have The JR Group supporting us with this. It’s important to help younger players find a routine while the Covid-19 pandemic rules out a return to action. Scottish football appears to be on a war footing at the moment with so much bickering and in-fighting around issues such as reconstruction and relegation.

“The football family has forgotten about the kids who were unfairly stereotyped by health secretary Matt Hancock at the start of all this for earning outrageous salaries. I can assure you that’s not the case with the young players coming through our doors, some of whom are in contract and many of whom are not.

“There are estimated to be 500 players out of contract and we don’t want them to be stuck in the wilderness. Our offer of free coaching will hopefully have a beneficial impact on their physical and mental health. It’s time to give something back and we’re delighted to have won support from a range of organisations from our scheme, including PFA Scotland.”

Calum Gallagher is amongst the first to use the service as he bids to find peak fitness ahead of the new season in League One with Airdrie. He said, “The programme is amazing and I’d urge all players to give it a go in these tough times. I know the coaching standards Bradley demands and the fact we’re being put through our paces by guys such as Cammy, who was in the League One team of the year last season, says it all.

“We’ve been playing football since we were kids and it’s a massive part of our self-identity so you miss it when the structure isn’t in place. Even the team WhatsApp group chats have fallen silent for now but this programme really helps fill the void and is a boost to both our mental health as well as our physical standing.”