The power of football to positively impact lives in all walks of society is highlighted in the new 2022 CashBack for Communities Annual Report.

CashBack for Communities is a Scottish Government programme that sees money seized from criminals invested into free activities and programmes for young people across Scotland, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

The Scottish FA has been one of the programme partners since 2008 and this year’s report is packed full of inspirational case studies about the societal benefits it offers young people throughout Scotland through their engagement in various projects.

Through the programme, the Scottish FA has engaged with an incredible 2596 young people across the nation in the last year, 90 percent of those involved coming from the SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) areas 1 and 2.

One initiative is the Volunteers Inspire Project (VIP), which enables participants to gain qualifications and real-life opportunities to enhance their careers, in various different football-related fields such as coaching, refereeing and event management. 

The VIP project has continued to develop and engage with many young people through 2021 and 2022, particularly through the Scottish FA’s partnership with Scottish Sport Futures – with the positive feedback highlighted in the case studies in the report.

Among the case studies is VIP participant Sophie Watson, who discovered a love for football for the first time through the programme and recently picked up a ‘Young Volunteer Award’ for her voluntary work at the Rose Reilly Football Academy which encourages young girls to take part in football activities.

Another notable achievement of CashBack for Communities in the past year has been the Go-Fitba project, which ran over the six-week summer period aiming to tackle holiday hunger.

Through Go-Fitba, which ran in collaboration with the Scottish Football Partnership Trust, 900 young people took part in football sessions, while 4640 free healthy meals were handed out during the crucial holiday period.

The Scottish FA also saw more than 700 pupils take part in the School of Football programme which provides coaching for S1 and S2 pupils, while through an additional element this year, just under 400 young people were given free access to Scottish FA Coach Education courses.

Paul McNeill, Scottish FA Head of Community Development, said: "Since 2008, our partnership with the CashBack for Communities programme has seen young people across the nation – many of whom come from deprived backgrounds – have their lives impacted through participation in our national game.

“This wonderful programme truly encapsulates the power that football has to yield positive societal benefits and we look forward to working in partnership with the Scottish Government to continue to make a difference to the lives of young Scottish people.”

The programme is measured against the Scottish Government’s outcomes and it has received key feedback with regards to the positive impact it has had on young people’s confidence, resilience, mental health, well-being and employability in particular.

The full 2022 CashBack for Communities Annual Report can be read here, while the full evaluation report, which measures the programme against the Scottish Government’s logic model and outcomes, can be found here.