The Scottish Football Association will have a difficult task breaking tradition if it targets fee-paying schools.
Craig Brown, Scotland manager and technical director of the SFA, has stated that he is seeking sponsorship for scholarships to independent schools based on football and academic ability. But the Scottish Schools' Football Association has not favoured schools of excellence in the past and and while no comment has been made on Brown's remarks it is unlikely such a scheme would win full approval.
Independent schools have traditionally favoured rugby and Brown made his remarks at a conference for Edinburgh businessmen when asked why football was not on the curriculum of private schools.
Belmont House in Glasgow is one of the few fee-paying schools to affiliate to the SSFA and played in the national under-13 shield this year as well as arranging occasional friendlies. PE master Andrew Teiger says: "Rugby is still the number one sport at our school but we do offer football on the PE curriculum for second and third years. If we offered it on the same level as rugby then we would find the same boys were being used for both sports. I think Craig Brown will find a lot of resistance to his proposals from the bigger and more traditional independent schools."
Glasgow Academy is also affiliated to the SSFA and teams have played in national competitions, PE master Rob Littlefield says, but not with much success. "We are traditionally strong in rugby - I think the Scottish Rugby Union was founded in our common-room - and we tend to play football as an after-school activity," he said.
"We view it very much as a recreational activity and enter the odd cup but not with any success. Basically, we can't do everything and so much of our resources are channelled into rugby that it is difficult to do football any justice. But the boys enjoy playing football and we are happy to be affiliated to the SSFA. I welcome Craig Brown's comments as I feel that the more people involved in sport the better."
Chris Spence, PE master at Stewart's-Melville College in Edinburgh, said: "I think it is a misconception that all the private schools offer are rugby, cricket and some athletics in the summer. We are traditionally a rugby playing school but we have a football option. We entered the SSFA under-18 shield this year and though we were well beaten in the first round it is something we would consider again. We feel it is important to offer a broad width of sport.
"It's just the case that most of the youngsters want to play rugby. Maybe the ones that play football are not as athletically gifted but they are very keen and we have had the football option for as long as I can remember. But I think what Craig Brown is proposing may be difficult to bring about."