Robert ‘Boab’ McMillan

Youth Football Coach

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Youth football coach Robert McMillan has been nominated as a Perth Pioneer for his work in creating, developing and guiding a number of Scone Thistle football teams. We met with Robert to highlight how his drive, vision and sense of community ought to inspire Perth ahead of the bid for City of Culture.

A former secondary school teacher, Robert is no longer able to teach following a severe aggravation of a football injury and diagnosis with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Despite being in constant pain and reliant on crutches to move around, Robert has combined teaching and an affection for football into a passion that is providing new opportunities for the young people of Scone.

Humbly describing himself as a “frustrated teacher”, Robert explained what inspired him to put his talents to use in the community.

“My son wanted to play football and there was no Scone team … there were 14 of them that were quite keen to get started, so we started the team, myself and Ronnie Milne, who has been with me from day one. We went from 14 boys over the course of the year to 21”.

Within a year Robert encouraged three other dads and two older brothers to help coaching where they could in order to move the original team, Scone Thistle Reds 2004s, forward. Due to the popularity of the club, the boy’s team split this season, with 20 of the kids now playing 11-a-side for the Scone Thistle Reds 2004s and 12 playing 7-a-side for the Scone Thistle Reds 2005s.

More than just providing an outlet for his son and his friends however, Robert is also an example of the atmosphere of fairness and equality that Perth aims to promote in the City of Culture bid. Scone Thistle has seen an encouraging level of interest from girls, leading to the formation of an under 9s girls’ team and an under 11s girls’ team.

“We had 36 kids and 8 or 9 of them were girls… We’re the only team in our age group that has any girls playing for us, but for several games we had more girls on the pitch than we had boys”.

Robert’s 2004 team also has one girl playing alongside the boys, while the 2005s have as many as five girls.

“I’m doing it for the sake of my son and daughter, but I’m also doing it for their pals and there were more girls that wanted to play… but I’m very passionate about football… so if you marry that together with a guy who’s a frustrated teacher who can’t work at the moment and has the opportunity to put football and working with kids together, then I’m going to do it all day long… for however long I can, whatever energy I can put in to it”.

There are times that Robert must stop working with the teams in order to receive treatment in hospital, nevertheless he is confident that the children are in good hands.

“It’s far from just me, I’ve maybe just started it, and I coordinate it but… I know that there are people that I can ask and they can easily take the teams… train them and respect them. I’ve got brilliant support from the other parents who coach.”

Speaking about his nomination as a Perth Pioneer, Robert humbly shared responsibility with the other parents who coach and quipped that his wife has become a “football widow”.

“If it highlights what we’re doing and brings more kids in, then that’s brilliant”

Robert plans to return to coaching once his health has improved and is looking forward to getting his Scottish FA C License coaching badge soon.