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Stuart Findlay: Celtic youth player and one of original intake in 2009

When I was first told about the St Ninian's project I found it really hard to take in.

It meant I would be leaving behind my school friends at Trinity High School in Rutherglen and moving to a new environment in Kirkintilloch.

Once I got to St Ninian's I made a new group of friends and also kept in touch with the old ones, so it wasn't too much of a problem. I knew that it would be easier for everybody if we integrated and didn't separate ourselves from the rest of the school.

I put myself forward for the school's pupil council in my first term because I felt it would be good to have the Celtic group's views represented. It was an honour to be elected to sit on it.

I thrived at the school and did well in my Standard Grade exams. It was a big decision not to stay on for fifth year and take my Highers, but when I got the chance of a full-time contract with Celtic I had to take it. I went on the project to be able to combine education and football, but most importantly to improve my footballing abilities.

I knew I would still be able to sit Highers by going to college in the evenings, and I have just done English and Maths. I will definitely sit another couple during my footballing career. Not only do they give me something to fall back on, but studying takes my mind off the pressures of football.

I am lucky enough to be doing well at football, but if I had to stop for any reason the project has set me in good stead to have a good future within an academic frame.

There were some mornings in the winter when it was cold and miserable and I remember thinking I could be staying in bed instead of getting up at 6am. But you realise that if you really want to succeed in sport you have to make sacrifices.

It has paid off for me and I wouldn't change anything that happened during the two years I was at the school. Although it was very challenging, I really enjoyed it and it has helped me enormously.

Stuart was the captain of Celtic Under-17s last season. He also played for the Under-19s and took part in a NextGen match against Manchester City. He made his first team debut against Norwich City and has represented Scotland at various age group levels.

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