Queen's Park's Head of Youth Development, David McCallum, explains the importance of his own involvement in the Da Vinci Initiative.

It's easy to see what young players can learn from Da Vinci trips, but the impact on coaches is not so immediately apparent.

However, having reaped the rewards himself, the Queen's Park Head of Youth Development, David McCallum, stresses how much coaches and backroom staff can benefit from taking part.

He explains: "The coaches work together in advance of the trip to prepare our training plan, but as with any programme we continue to discuss how we would implement it and on occasion adjust it when needed.

"At the end of each day the coaching staff analyse the training sessions and discuss what was positive or what we would do differently if we were to deliver the sessions again. We discuss the training programme for the next day and assign coaches to deliver specific sections of the sessions. 

"This is great for the coaches to be able to listen to each other’s opinion and then decide what is best for the team."

The opportunity to "broaden their horizons" is another plus for coaches and backroom staff.

David added: "We get the opportunity to observe and interact with football teams from other parts of Europe. This type of situation is invaluable, as we have been able to use many things that we have seen or heard from our previous involvement in the Da Vinci programme."

David acknowledges that being involved in the programme has been massive for his personal development. While the key part of the programme is obviously the training camp itself, there is a huge amount of work goes into preparing the club's application for one of the coveted spots.

David adds: "Applications begin a year in advance of the trip and in order for Queen’s Park to be able to compete in the application process, against mostly Scottish Premiership clubs, we have to be detailed in everything we say that we are going to do - and be able to carry it through." 

Alongside his work with Queen's Park, David's former Motherwell teammate Stephen Craigan has drafted him into help out with the Northern Ireland U19 squad.

Da Vinci has proved an invaluable experience in taking this step as well. David explains: "Given that the involvement with the Ireland squad generally is being away on training camps, it's great that I have had these Da Vinci experiences. 

"Having coached in games in previous Da Vinci trips against the likes of Den Haag (Holland), Locomotive Moscow (Russia), Valencia (Spain), Antalyaspor (Turkey), Levante (Spain) and the Russian International U16 squad, I feel that these experiences helped me understand that teams from different countries can have slightly different playing styles and therefore we may have to adapt to suit the game that we are involved in."

While the Da Vinci experience has helped in his international duties, it's been invaluable in helping Queen's Park maintain its conveyor belt of young talent.

As head of the Hampden youth set-up, David embraces the certainty that the best of our young players will move on to other clubs.

He says: "Naturally, we are disappointed to lose players, but we are genuinely delighted to see youngsters who have come through our youth ranks progressing in the game. Da Vinci has certainly helped us help players step up to higher levels.

"The programme has been very beneficial in that we can cover approximately 30 training sessions in two weeks due to the ‘full time’ element of training. It would normally take our club more than two months to cover 30 sessions due to us being a part-time club. 

"We also have more time to spend in the ‘classroom’ covering presentations from staff and players alike. Match analysis, football scenarios, psychology and motivation are all areas that we do work on at home, but it's spread over a longer period of time.

"We have seen a lot of our Da Vinci youngsters move on in recent years - Andy Robertson and Lawrence Shankland being two names that spring immediately to mind.

"And we want to see this year's Da Vinci group come back from Spain as better players. We want to develop their understanding of the game and what is expected of the specific roles within the team. We feel that having ‘football Intelligence’ allied with talent and desire is a major factor in how far players can progress within the game. 

"The Da Vinci programme provides a terrific springboard to accelerate the development of everyone involved, but it's then up to the individuals to show when they come back that they can retain and use all the information effectively."