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ONLY time will tell if they make the grade at Rangers. They are already in a class of their own, though.

Every day, scores of up-and-coming talents arrive at Auchenhowie, pull on their boots and take to the pitch as they strive for improvement and look to catch the eye. If the ultimate goal is achieved, the sweat and the sacrifice will have been worth it.

The physical demands are not the only ones being placed on those in the Light Blue youth ranks, however. There are other examinations to pass, other hurdles to overcome as Rangers look to mould well-rounded people as well as create the perfect player.

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The education programme that has been put in place provides additional support to kids as they look to achieve in the classroom as well as on the park. The results speak for themselves.

“We had a record number of A passes this year and some players combining full-time football with their Highers got four As,” Head of Academy Business and Education Creag Robertson told SportTimes. “That is quite remarkable given the demands and the fact they are only in school two days a week.

“What we do to support that is put on tutors in the evening so when they are in training during the day, all the offices are then used between four and six for subjects, like English, Maths, History and Modern Studies, and the guys sit in a group and get two hours tuition.

“That is enhancing their chances of getting good grades. The results were fantastic this year.”

The youth system in place at the Rangers Training Centre has been given an overhaul in recent years as time and money has been invested in the next generation of Light Blues.

Producing players capable of winning league titles, lifting cups and representing their nation remains the primary objective for Head of Academy Craig Mulholland and his team. Football is not the only focus, though.

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Robertson moved from Falkirk last year to play his part in the Gers system. He is in no doubt where the credit should be directed.

“It is a testament to the ethos and environment of the Academy,” Robertson said.

“No longer is it football or education, they go hand in hand. That goes all the way through the Academy from the younger ones to the senior Academy.

“The results this year were particularly strong and they have improved every year of the programme in the last four or five years.

“That is testament to the players, it is those guys that are putting in the work, but also to their parents and their schools and the support that they get.

“The staff here – Katy Lamont, Greg Statt, Louise McLean – are invaluable for us and the coaches really buy into it as well, which is brilliant.

“It (Rangers) is on a much bigger scale, there is more detail, the infrastructure is comprehensive.

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“There is an excitement with the new games programme, the Boclair partnership, it is all very innovative and we are trying to drive youth development forward. It is brilliant to be part of.”

It is not just within the walls of Auchenhowie where the Rangers kids are preparing for their futures, either in the game or out of it.

The link-up with Boclair Academy gives youngsters a chance to fulfil their academic potential as well as realise their Ibrox ambitions.

One student transferred from another school to be part of the Gers programme and was able to take up two extra subjects and earn additional qualifications. Across the board, there are personal success stories.

“The majority of them are very good and understand the need for it, and that comes from the parents as well,” Robertson said.

“But football is a great motivator for these guys to continue to perform at school. You will get different levels in terms of academics, of course you will, but as long as they are diligent and attentive then we can maintain that.

“Football motivates them because if they don’t do the work then they don’t get to participate in the football.

“They have done that themselves, we have just put the system in place that has enabled them to achieve that. Ultimately, it lies with the players and the parents.

“They are the guys that drive forward and have unbelievable enthusiasm and motivation to succeed in both aspects.”

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The work that Robertson and his team put in on a daily basis is all part of the blueprint that has been drawn to build for a brighter future at Ibrox.

Those that don’t make it all the way at Rangers will have qualifications to fall back on, or a head start when their playing careers are over and they are planning for the rest of their lives.

The players in the Academy system see the bigger picture and buy into the vision. Both on the field and off it, they are thinking about the here and now and what lies ahead.

“It is a non-negotiable and the work needs to happen,” Robertson said. “There are loads of cases in the past of players that have had an unfortunate injury and not really had anything to fall back on, but now it is ingrained in them at such a young age.

“At our induction evenings when we meet players and parents, we tell them at the very beginning that this is a priority for us and that lends itself to the right environment.

“They spend so much time here and it is a massive commitment from the players and their parents to come into this programme.

“They need to give themselves the best possible chance to succeed at everything. It is not just our sole job to create good footballers, it is to create good people.

“The education programme goes hand in hand with that and it is something that every Academy is working towards. But we are particularly proud of the programme that we have here.”