Youngsters and coaching staff at Sons of Struth football academy were treated to some continental flair last week as they hosted coaches from one of Europe’s most successful clubs.

The youth academy, which is affiliated to Rangers FC, welcomed coaches from Portuguese league champions Benfica, in what promises to be a rewarding partnership for the future.

In something of a coup for the academy — which celebrates only its fourth season this year — Sons of Struth manager Craig Houston said: “The training was absolutely fantastic.

"It was a great insight for us at grassroots level to see how a world class club works. Our kids certainly had a great experience.”

Despite training outdoors in some harsh wet weather conditions, academy players between the ages of 7-13 years old had the chance to pick up valuable tips and hints from Benfica coaching team over four training sessions.

On the final day, ten Sons of Struth coaches took part in an educational day of practical and theory demonstrations by their counterparts at the Lisbon club.

With the training positively impacting every area of the academy, Craig said: “We’re already seeing the benefits of what we’ve learned, which is something we can really take forward.

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"Thanks to this experience, some of our kids will have the chance to go out to Portugal as individuals in the new year.”

At the end of the training visit, Benfica academy coach Jose Alexandre Bruno, said: “I loved the experience. Sons of Struth is a great club with skillful kids.

"It’s important to put quality coaching into developing great players. I really loved being in Scotland and would like to thank all who made me feel welcome.”

Ten-year-old academy player Rui McGregor had a special reason for enjoying the visit — with his parents having named him after legendary Portuguese midfielder Rui Costa, who came through the Benfica youth system and played for the club for 13 years years.

Rui said: "Because of my name I always liked Benfica.

"It was great being coached by real Benfica coaches, Jose and Joao, who were really good. I loved the two days and can’t wait to do it again.”

Fellow academy player, Zak Mchale, 12, who won the coaching day's Eusebio Award for his ball skills, said: “I really enjoyed doing different drills and I was really proud when they told me I had won an award.

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"I’m looking forward to Benfica coming back next year and would love to visit them in Portugal”

Along with the academy's young stars of the future, parents were delighted to see the opportunities received from the coaching visit.

Peter Campbell, who’s 12-year-old son Eliott attended the two training days, said: “Eliott has been at Sons of Struth for around a year and he really enjoyed the visit from Benfica — the coaching was first class and fun for him.

"His full team worked really hard and this is really yet another fantastic opportunity planned and arranged within the academy.”

Also seeing the benefits of the coaching for his eight-year-old son Scott, Craig Gunning said: “The sessions were very positive, motivational and quite technical.

"Scott thoroughly enjoyed both sessions and was surprised how quickly the two hours passed on both days even in the rain.”

Alongside capitalising on the Benfica connection, Sons of Struth currently partner with Rangers and Coerver, a recognised world leader in football coaching.