Hearts defender Danny Wilson joined the action at the Scotch Beef Street Soccer Challenge Series event at the Powerleague pitches in Portobello, Edinburgh yesterday (April 24).
Around a thousand keen footballers are expected to take part in the first stages of this new nationwide grassroots football events programme for young people and adults from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Street Soccer Challenge Series is run in partnership with Quality Meat Scotland (Scotch Beef) and Edinburgh butcher John Saunderson also lent his support to the Edinburgh event yesterday. John and his family run Saundersons in Leven Street and his family has been serving the Edinburgh community since the business was established in 1958.
The series will be the biggest event series ever run by Street Soccer Scotland and is uniting teams and players from across Scotland offering regular 5-a-side tournaments and access to information on health, personal development and employment and training. The Street Soccer Challenge Series will see a total of twelve events happening throughout the year with a further two events happening in each of the four cities
The programme will also see a strong legacy element attached as twelve disadvantaged adults will become volunteer co-ordinators who will run the events whilst receiving training and coaching, refereeing skills and important employment support. All twelve will also undertake a two week training programme in Italy later this year.
David Duke, Chief Executive of Street Soccer Scotland said: “This is the biggest series of events we’ve ever run and we’re delighted to be doing it with our partners at Scotch Beef. It’s really exciting for everyone taking part but importantly we’re aiming to respond to some of the biggest challenges that face many of the people taking part – social inclusion and health issues. We know from other programmes we run that players who take part get real benefit from taking part in physical activity and increased social interaction.
“Another important part of the new Street Soccer Challenge Series is for players to get access to information on healthy eating and we are delighted that our partners at Scotch Beef are backing us and helping our players find out more about how to eat better.”
Jennifer Robertson, Health and Education Co-ordinator, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said: “We are delighted to be supporting the fantastic work of Street Soccer Scotland with this new football programme.
“Eating a healthy balanced diet is important for everyone to make the most of life - whether you are a professional footballer or just enjoy a regular five aside game.
“We’re looking forward to working with the players involved in the programme to show them just how easy it is to make delicious low-cost meals using Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.”
The Challenge Series is open to anyone who is 16+ and currently unemployed. Teams and projects from any socially excluded backgrounds are welcomed including, but not limited to, projects working in the following areas:
• Homelessness• Mental Health• Addiction• Recovery Networks• Criminal Justice• Youth Employability• NEET Groups• Black and Ethnic Minorities
Using one of Street Soccer Scotland’s core values of ‘Fair Play’, every event will offer players the chance to play regardless of ability. With the sound of a live DJ in the background, players can expect to play at least six games and at a level which suits their ability and the chance to take part in a series of football skills challenges.
Following a series of group matches, teams will play off in the trophy matches which will see medals awarded to winners and those players that have embraced the ‘Fair Play’ ethos the most.
The events’ Player Zones will offer access to a range of services and information which players may not currently have access to. In partnership with local and national organisations players can access a range of services including education and training, health advice, welfare support, mental health issues and employability services. Players will also be invited to leave comments about their experiences of the day in the Your Game section. Official team pictures will also be taken as mementos of the event.
Caption: Hearts defender Danny Wilson (centre) pictured with Edinburgh butcher John Saunderson and some of the players at yesterday’s event in Portobello.