Scotland manager Craig Levein was on hand to help launch the 2011 Bank of Scotland Midnight League programme.
Levein visited Alloa Athletic FC's Recreation Park, a flagship venue for the Midnight League programme, for a specially arranged session with youngsters from Alloa and Lornshill Academy. The programme, which initially began as a pilot scheme, now runs in all 32 local authorities in Scotland, attracting over 3000 participants every year.
"I deal with players at the top of the game, but football isn't just about elite athletes," said Levein. "I firmly believe the game should be accessible to everyone who wants to play. The Midnight League programme encourages more young people to play the game and, perhaps more importantly, steers them away from poor choices off the pitch and gives them something positive to focus on."
Clackmannanshire Council run their Midnight League programme every Friday night. Research by the local authority and Central Scotland Police has found that during a two-week break when the league was not in session, calls in relation to antisocial behaviour increased by nearly 50% in some areas.
Superintendent Alan Douglas, Area Commander for Stirling and Clackmannan, Central Scotland Police, said: "The Midnight Leagues have demonstrated their value as an organised activity for our young people, which helps to reduce antisocial behaviour. I would encourage boys and girls aged 12 to 16 to attend."
The 2011 Midnight League programme kicks off in January with leagues running across more than 75 venues. For more information, and to find a session near you, visit the Scottish Football Association website.
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