Former Celtic star Paul Hartley was at Hampden park yesterday to launch the third year of the Tesco Bank Football Challenge.
The Alloa manager helped the Scottish FA and Tesco Bank kick off the third season of the country’s leading football participation programme, which has now engaged almost 40,000 children across 1,000 schools in Scotland.
39,117 children have now taken part in the initiative - 8.7% more than targeted - with 40% of Scottish schools involved, up 11% on the original target.
"Football can be a force for good in society and this programme is aimed at engaging children at an early age with the benefits of football," said Hartley.
"Health and active living is an important part of life and this football programme helps to teach this amongst Scotland’s children."
The Tesco Bank Football Challenge is a four-year community programme designed to introduce football to six- to eight-year-olds across Scotland to help get them engaged in a healthy and active lifestyle.
The foundation level of the Scottish FA’s Development Plan, the initiative is based on the four-a-side Desire to Play programme and is designed to develop social skills, health and fitness, camaraderie and the development of general physical literacy skills.
Children participate in a six week block of football coaching with qualified Scottish FA coaches, before participating in regional festivals across the country. A national festival at Hampden Park brings the school year of football to a memorable close.
Jim Fleeting, Scottish FA head of football development, hailed the success of the £1m initiative, run in partnership with Tesco Bank.
"The Tesco Bank Football Challenge is one of the most successful components of our 'strong, quality, growth' strategy towards Scotland United in 2020.
"Not only have we seen tremendous growth within the programme, but its true strength has been the quality of experience children are enjoying with improved facilities, better coaches and the creation of a real legacy by continuing to offer in-service training to teachers.
"Tesco Bank has been a highly proactive partner making experiences for children across the programme very special."
To find out more visit tescobank.com.