Kenny Dalglish said the Scottish FA’s ten-year partnership with McDonald’s had made a “huge impact on grassroots football”.
The Scotland legend was speaking at Holyrood this month as a report, commissioned by McDonald’s in association with Loughborough University’s Institute of Sport to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their partnership with the Scottish FA, was presented to MSPs.
The report set out to review what has been achieved over the last 10 years in the grassroots game and found nearly 400 grassroots clubs had been improved through the Scottish FA’s Quality Mark accreditation programme.
The programme, assisted by Scottish FA club development managers, helps clubs to improve areas such as coach education, governance and youth development.
Dalglish hosted the presentation at the Scottish Parliament with guest speakers including former England striker Sir Geoff Hurst and former Manchester United youth coach Eric Harrison. He said: “We can’t take the popularity of football for granted. There are other sports now competing with football for kids’ attention.
“The Scottish FA and McDonald’s partnership has worked for ten years to make the game as attractive as possible so more people play the game. I think this has worked very well. The numbers of players is going up all the time.
“I think the Quality Mark programme has helped improve clubs all across Scotland and made it easier to start playing the game.
“There is no doubt that the programme has made a big impact on the grassroots game.”
The report also found that 10,000 coaches each year pass through Scottish FA coach education courses and Dalglish said he believed this had improved the environment for people playing the game.
He said: “Better coaches means better players. There has never been a better time in the history of the game if you want to learn how to become a coach.
“It is not all about making your players win. I like to see young people playing with a smile on their face. The coach education we have now helps make it a fun, positive environment to play in.”
The report was written by Dr Steven Bradbury and Professor Barrie Houlihan, who analysed the growth of grassroots football across the UK.
Dr Bradbury said: “The grassroots game across Scotland during the past decade has undergone a major transformation, with girls’ football showing the biggest surge.
“McDonald’s contribution to the growth in participation can largely be attributed to its support for coach education for both men and women and improved club development enabling better services at grassroots level and making the game more accessible.”
Girl’s and womens’ football development officer for the Scottish FA’s East region, Sam Milne, was a panel member at the parliamentary presentation and talked about the development of the female game through McDonald’s supported programmes.
She said:“Quality Mark sets out in its criteria that to reach a certain level, you must have a girls’ section at your club.
“There has been a growth in the number of female teams as a result.
“I have also been impressed with the growing number of females attending coach education courses.”
Scottish FA head of regional development Andrew Gould was also a panel member.
He said: “It has been great to showcase the successful ten-year partnership between the Scottish FA and McDonald’s.
“It has been a fantastic relationship which has seen grassroots clubs and coaches grow and improve all over Scotland.”