When Raith Rovers first launched the Player Development Fund back in early 2016, it was something of a step into the unknown.
At that time there was no dedicated youth coach, and no development squad. Just ambitious plans that asked fans to donate towards the future of Raith Rovers.
Fast forward 18 months, and the transformation has been remarkable.
Under the guidance of Craig Easton, and more recently with the help of Scott Robertson, the Development Squad has grown from a starting point of just three players into a side that claimed its league championship in its first season.
And most important of all, SIX youth players have gone on to make first team appearances this season, with several more making it onto the subs bench.
In short, the Development Squad is working, and that’s why, this week, the club is relaunching the Player Development Fund in the hope of attracting new subscribers.
While the fund now has over 100 dedicated fans making monthly donations, the club hope that even more will now be willing to donate given the success of Easton’s squad.
“It’s a great time to relaunch because we’re actually seeing some players coming through, being part of first team squads, and helping get results,” Easton explained.
“We just want to bring people’s attention to the fact that this is working in terms of bringing our own players through to play in the first team. We’ve got six doing that so far this season.
“The Player Development Fund is a massive part of it and we won’t be able to operate without it.
“Those people who have already signed up have been amazing and we really want to thank them but we can’t keep it going unless we get a wee bit more through the development fund.”
The Development Squad is also looking for businesses to take up one of several sponsorship opportunities, having recently acquired its first ever home kit sponsor after long-established fans group, The Neeburs of Geordie Munro, signed a deal for the next two seasons.
“We’ve just released some new packages which are really exciting in terms of the benefits that go along with them and are very reasonable in terms of cost,” Easton added.
“Yes, we’re needing money to keep going, but businesses and individuals can be a big part of these young players’ lives, and helping them towards their future careers at Raith first team.”
The crowning moment for Easton came at St Mirren in the Irn-Bru Cup earlier in the season when a Raith starting XI featuring three Development Squad players – James Berry, Jamie Watson and Dave McKay – secured a 3-1 victory at the Championship leaders.
“Winning the Development League was a bonus but, for me, when I can see players progressing, getting their chance in first team, helping to get a result, not looking out of place and actually excelling, that’s best thing for me and the rest of the coaches,” Easton said.
To donate to the Player Development Fund, visit Raith Rovers official website.