On Friday 20th May, over 150 young footballers from across the central belt participated in the first of four Bank of Scotland Midnight League Regional Finals at Broadwood Stadium, home of Clyde FC.
The Regional Final was a combination of this year’s Bank of Scotland Midnight League programme which has been running since January in communities across all 32 Local Authorities in Scotland.
The Scottish FA introduced the new ‘Community Captains’ initiative to the programme this year. Each team was nominated a community captain to provide more responsibility by organising their squad’s attendance, encouraging good behaviours and promoting the sessions on a weekly basis and as such 22 teams attended the Central Midnight League Regional Final thanks to the Community Captains and players.
Former Hibernian FC captain Ian Murray attended the Bank of Scotland Midnight League Regional Final to present the medals and trophies and pass on some words of wisdom to the community captains. Murray said: “This is the first time I’ve been involved with the Bank of Scotland Midnight League programme and what a fantastic initiative. To give aspiring young footballers the opportunity to play at a professional stadium such as Broadwood provides lifelong memories and also helps them take one step closer to achieving their dream of one day playing here as a professional footballer.”
Former Rangers FC player and current St. Mirren manager Alex Rae was also on hand at Broadwood and said: “Seeing nearly 200 young male and female footballers take centre stage at Broadwood today has been phenomenal. The Midnight League is a great initiative supported by the Bank of Scotland, providing free football to 7,000 youngsters on a weekly basis is a winning combination in my eyes. Giving these aspiring young players the opportunity to express themselves in a fun and safe environment can only help develop grassroots football in Scotland.
Stuart Langan,People, Legal and Strategy – Chief Operating Officer at Bank of Scotland, attended the Regional Final and said: “Congratulations to all the teams on reaching the Central Regional Final. We must also extend our thanks to the Community Captains for their commitment to the programme this year.
"Having Ian Murray, a former Hibernian FC captain who knows what it takes to be a leader on and off the field, attend the Final is fantastic and a perfect role model for the community captains to look up to. Bank of Scotland is extremely proud of its 13 year association with the Midnight League and the positive effect it has in communities across the country.
"It’s one of the Bank’s key programmes that helps it deliver its commitment to helping Scotland prosper. We look forward to building on the success of today at the upcoming Regional Finals.”
Also a huge supporter of Midnight League are CashBack for Communities. CashBack is a Scottish Government programme which takes funds recovered from the proceeds of crime and invests them into free activities and programmes for young people across Scotland.
In addition to governing the game, the Scottish FA is responsible for the continued growth and development of the grassroots aspects of the sport by supporting players, coaches, volunteers and referees.
CashBack for Communities has supported the Scottish FA since 2008 to deliver a wide range of activities for young people in their communities. This has included the roll out of the Schools of Football concept and also the Midnight League Project.