Scotland star Barry Bannan returned home to give his backing to a programme keeping young people off the streets on Friday nights.
The midfielder, who hails from North Lanarkshire, was at Keir Hardie Sports Centre in Holytown to help encourage more than 150 youngsters taking part in sporting activities including football, rugby, dance and tennis.
North Lanarkshire Leisure’s Friday Night Project has helped reduce incidents of youth-related anti-social activity by providing a safe and secure environment in order for young people to enjoy themselves.
The project was initially founded at the Keir Hardie Centre four years ago, but its popularity led to it being rolled out to other sites across North Lanarkshire.
These include Birkenshaw Sports Hall, Kirkwood Sports Barn, Loch View Golf Course, Wishaw Sports Centre and Calder Community Centre as well as football and dance leagues at St Ambrose High.
To celebrate the project’s success, a special ‘Intersite Games’ was organised allowing the different areas to compete against each other.
And the 17-times capped Crystal Palace player was on hand to present the winners Keir Hardie with a trophy to mark their victory in the competition.
Bannan said: “I was delighted to come along and support this event.
“Getting involved in sport is a great way to keep occupied, stay out of trouble and build friendships.
“Everyone was really enjoying themselves and it’s a fantastic project.”
North Lanarkshire Leisure chairman Councillor Jim Logue added: “The aim is to provide opportunities for young people and teenagers to take part in sports, keep active and give them something positive to do on a Friday night.
“As well as the sports on offer, we promote health and wellbeing and give the young people information about the dangers of smoking, alcohol and how to help tackle obesity and prevent anti-social behaviour.”
The project runs from 6pm to 10pm every Friday night, and is open to anyone aged nine and over with sports being delivered by fully qualified coaches.
It is supported by the Lanarkshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP), Police Scotland, NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Council.
For more information visit www.nlleisure.co.uk/kids/friday-night-project.
The website also features full details of the Kids NL Summer programme which runs until Friday, August 15.
For £1 a day youngsters aged 5-12 can take part in a variety of sports and activities at venues across North Lanarkshire.