This fine looking chap is Andrew Steeves, Andrew turns 17 in July 2011 and has just been offered a two year contract to play with Scottish Premier League side St. Johnstone FC (The Saints). If these names sound a little familiar that is because Andrew's big brother Kris is one of the co-founders of Soccer In The Community and St. Johnstone FC is the club Kris worked and coached at in Scotland. Andrew started playing soccer with Kris in their back yard when he was old enough to walk, at 5 years old Andrew went to St. Johnstone's community program on Saturday mornings to have fun and learn a little about the game. Andrew always showed potential and a willingness to work hard and learn, at 12 years old he was training with St. Johnstone's youth side once a week and his club side twice a week with games on Sunday. At 13 he started training with Saints' youth side twice a week and playing games for them as well, he then progressed though the age groups and at 15 was fortunate to split his time between High School 3 days a week and training with the club 2 days and 2 evenings plus his game on Sunday, here he was actually playing up to U19.
His hard work, determination and undoubted talent paid off this year when he was offered a deal to leave school and train with St. Johnstone full-time as a professional youth. He will mainly be playing for the U19 side but has so far made the bench for the first team once in a game against Aberdeen which was shown live on Scottish television. Fingers crossed he can go a little further this year if he keeps up the hard work.
While Andrew's story is one of so few that have been successful (less than 1% of children who play soccer in the UK go on to play professionally) it shows that community soccer is not only positive but if the talent is there with the right attitude then nothing can stand in your way.