A YOUNG Helensburgh footballer is preparing to take the next step in his sporting education by joining Kilmarnock FC's newly-launched school of football.

Ross Fulton, who turns 12 this week, was signed by the Ayrshire club's academy on a pro youth contract three years ago after impressing on trial.

Having been with Ardencaple's youth set-up since the age of five and spent time with Clyde Thistle Boy's Club, the pacy right-winger has been invited to attend the Killie programme in its inaugural year, starting in August, along with six other promising youngsters.

Football runs in the family for the Hermitage Primary pupil, with his grandfather - ex-Celtic and Scotland midfielder Murdo MacLeod - the perfect role model.

READ MORE: Ross is 'player of the tournament' at Christian Aid football festival

And mum Mhairi says the rest of the family are just as excited as Ross about the opportunity to chase his dream.

She told the Advertiser: "Ross played against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park shortly after joining Clyde Thistle when he was invited to go for a trial.

"He settled in very well, showing his skills on the ball and impressed coaches with his speed.

"We were very quickly told that they would offer him a pro youth contract, Ross was only nine at the time and was over the moon.

"He currently trains with Kilmarnock four times a week and as a parent, we've supported him with his dream of playing football at a professional level, and he is loving every minute.

"His commitment and the sacrifices he makes as a young boy is really admirable and we're delighted for him."

READ MORE: Pictures from Ardencaple FC youth football tournament

Ross has been a familiar face in the Advertiser over the last few years, winning various trophies with Hermitage Primary and more recently at the Christian Aid tournament, where he was named player of the tournament, a trophy he has picked up two years in a row.

He will commute daily to Kilmarnock Academy, where his bespoke timetable will include eight periods of football a week alongside traditional learning.

And he was given the perfect send-off from primary school this week as the Killie Monster Truck arrived in town to take him and his friends to the P7 leavers' dance.

Mhairi added: “Killie have been amazing with him. It’s clear they’re making a big deal out of it and it was great for them to send the truck up here. It really makes him feel such a big part of it already.

“My dad [Murdo MacLeod] has been a huge influence on Ross. He’s always encouraging him, taking him to training and games and giving him positive feedback, but keeping him level-headed.

READ MORE: Young guns on target at Helensburgh festival of football

“Ross has never really had one team that he supports, he’s been with Kilmarnock from a very young age and is so involved with that set-up, but whenever anyone has asked him he has about 10 or 15 teams he likes. He really just has a love for football.

“It’s every boy’s dream, isn’t it?

“It’s so hard nowadays, but that’s what he wants to do, so we need to give him the support and embrace it."