Calum Burns is a former apprentice professional player at Hibernian and wrote this article for PFA Scotland to describe his journey since his release last year.
“Being released by Hibs in 2011 was a devastating experience and one that can cause you to lose hope and belief in both football and in yourself. Without the help of Craig Flannigan from PFA Scotland and Trish Keppie from the SFA this experience would have been a lot harder to deal with.”
“Soon after hearing the news that I was not be kept on at Hibernian I was informed about the Nike Academy, a programme based in Loughborough aimed at getting young players back into the professional game. I applied and was successful in two rounds of trials, subsequently being selected as part of a twenty two player group to participate in the Academy for 2011-12.”
“However, I struggled to deal with moving down south as the experience of losing out on a childhood dream with Hibs had not been as easy as expected to come to terms with. When I decided to move home I lost a lot of confidence and it took me a while to get back to being myself. During this time I realised that I could not let one experience stop me from progressing with my life and my football career. I contacted Trish Keppie to find out information on football scholarships in the USA and she put me in contact with Craig Flannigan from PFA Scotland who was immediately interested in helping me to achieve my goals. I explained to Craig where I wanted to go in life and stated my desire to achieve good qualifications as well as fulfilling all my ambitions in football.”
“After talking regularly on the phone and meeting with Craig we began to contact schools in the USA stating my interest in attaining a degree and developing as a footballer, resulting in six scholarship offers from the USA.”
“However I again discovered that this route was not as straightforward as I expected, so I discussed with Craig alternative routes to studying and attempting to return to professional football. It was at this point we looked at the possibility of attending trials for a football scholarship at Stirling University. Without the help of Craig and PFA Scotland I would not have been able to successfully secure a place at Stirling University on their Football Scholarship Programme.”
“Along with the support, contacts and opportunities, the help I received in terms of having someone to speak to and someone who believed in me means that I will always be grateful to PFA Scotland and in particular Craig Flannigan. The support was much appreciated during a confusing and difficult time.”