YOUNGSTERS from Motherwell’s Firpark School have scored a new hobby.
A team from the Assisted special Needs (ASN) school has been taking part in a new seven-a-side football league.
The programme has been specifically created for pupils attending ASN schools, with the Firpark children enjoying the ‘home’ advantage for the first matches at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility.
They were up against youngsters from Portland and Drumpark schools, from the Coatbridge area, Cumbernauld’s Glencryan school and Carrongrange from Falkirk.
The league has been set up as part of a partnership project involving North Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Football Association.
Former Scotland international and North Lanarkshire football development officer Andy Smith has worked hard to see the league come to fruition.
He said: “We have been working in partnership with the SFA during the last couple of years to provide weekly coaching sessions within our ASN schools.
“The pupils and coaches have really enjoyed the sessions and we have some very talented footballers within these schools.
“We are hoping to expand the league in the future and include more local authority teams as football provides a great way of encouraging the pupils to enjoy exercise and become part of a team game.”
Each of the schools involved has a squad of 10 players with dedicated coaches supporting their training ahead of league games, which is funded by the SFA.
Councillor Jim Logue, convener of learning and leisure services, said: “We are proud to be supporting the ASN central league and the Ravenscraig facility provides the perfect sporting venue for this type of competition.
“As a council, we are committed to encouraging all our pupils to get more involved in sport and have healthier lifestyles.
“Through education and the stimulus of sport, young people can build self esteem and develop their sporting talents and the ASN league provides a perfect opportunity for this.”
The next set of matches takes place on Friday, February 4 at Ravenscraig.
It will be followed by further games in March and April before the top two teams go forward to represent the central region at the national finals in June.