Over 200 young people took part in the annual Bank of Scotland Midnight League Central, West and South West Regional Final at Airdrie United’s Excelsior Stadium.
The regional final formed part of this year’s Bank of Scotland Midnight League programme which has been running since January at venues across all 32 local authorities in Scotland.
Teams from all over Central, West and South West Scotland were represented at the tournament which was played across three categories – 12-13 years and 14 years and over boys as well as an open competition for girls. Hibernian and Scotland under-21 star Callum Booth and Scotland women and Celtic midfielder Megan Sneddon were on hand to lend their support and help with the medal and trophy presentations.
Bank of Scotland Midnight League is a national network of diversionary five-a-side football activity, targeting 12 to 16 year olds across the country. Run in partnership with the Scottish FA, the Bank of Scotland Midnight League programme has expanded over the last five years into all 32 Scottish local authorities with over 3000 young people participating across over 100 venues each year.
Hibernian's Callum Booth is a big fan of the programme. He said: “The Bank of Scotland Midnight Leagues are a great way to get young people playing football and socialising with other youngsters from their area. Anything that provides a safe environment for them to do so can only be of benefit to local communities all over Scotland.”
Celtic midfielder Megan Sneddon said: "The Bank of Scotland Midnight Leagues provide a great opportunity for young people to get fit and healthy and improve confidence and self esteem. Playing in a stadium environment really added to the excitement of the finals day, and for me it's particularly encouraging to see so many young women taking part."
Stuart Clark, Local Bank Manager for Bank of Scotland Coatbridge commented: “Congratulations to all the teams on reaching the regional final. Bank of Scotland is proud to continue its support for the Midnight League which delivers a first class diversionary programme for young people across Scotland.”
A recent research study by Stirling University into the wider social effects and benefit of the programme returned some very positive observations. Over 85% of respondents believe that Bank of Scotland Midnight League has had a positive effect on their local community.
Instances of anti-social behaviour have dropped by as much as 30% in some local authority areas when the Leagues are in session with 22% of young people surveyed admitting they 'might be getting into trouble' if they were not playing at their local Midnight League. The Leagues have also been credited with helping to break down social barriers between young people and local Police.
Over 70% of respondents said that they enjoy improved self-confidence and esteem as a result of participation and almost 80% feeling fitter and healthier.