Scotland's leading grassroots football initiative continues to go from strength to strength as it celebrates the start of its fourth season this month.
A remarkable 61,112 children across 1,562 primary schools in Scotland have now engaged in the Tesco Bank Football Challenge - the Scottish FA's flagship football participation programme.
As former Celtic player and Scottish FA Youth ambassador Peter Grant helped launch the fourth year of the Challenge, it was revealed that 73% of all primary schools in Scotland are now involved with the initiative - an 11% increase on the current target.
Grant said that “more children are benefiting from the healthy lifestyle opportunities" brought about by the initiative, which introduces football to six- to eight-year-olds across Scotland.
"Thousands of teachers and volunteers are able to use the skills the programme delivers to create legacy opportunities, such as football back in schools at lunchtime or the end of the school day,” he added.
A four-year community programme run in partnership with the Scottish FA, the Tesco Bank Football Challenge aims to engage kids in a healthy and active lifestyle through 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.
Teachers and volunteers continue to enjoy the Scottish FA’s in-service programme with over 3,500 now trained to support the growth of football in schools.
“The Tesco Bank Football Challenge has become one of our most successful grassroots football programmes over the last four years," said Jim Fleeting, Scottish FA director of football development.
"It has been fantastic to see so many children the length and breadth of the country taking part in football for the first time. It is also pleasing to see the number of volunteers, the lifeblood of the grassroots game, enjoy our coaching in-service programme.”