Dundee pupils aged between five and 12 received a visit from the Scottish Communities League Cup (SCLC) together with Dundee goalkeeper Rab Douglas and Dundee United midfielder Gary MacKay-Steven as part of the Wave of Support Trophy Tour to promote respect, responsibility and tolerance to football fans and families throughout Scotland.
The SCLC is, for the second year running, sponsored by the Scottish Government and, with the help of all SFL and SPL clubs, is coordinating a national Trophy Tour to celebrate and grow the appeal and awareness of existing club, school and other community football and sports initiatives across the country.
The kids, all from local schools, took part in the Leisure and Culture Dundee holiday football festival and enjoyed competing in friendly games and practising their football skills throughout the morning.The pupils were also given the chance to have their photo taken with the Cup, ask the players questions and learn about the importance of respect, responsibility and tolerance on and off the pitch to encourage positive behaviour and unite communities.
Joining the Wave of Support Trophy Tour as it arrived in Dundee, Rab Douglas, goalkeeper at Dundee FC, said: “It’s great to be involved in the Trophy Tour and see the reaction on the kids’ faces when they get to hold the Cup. Community football projects are a brilliant way to get young people interested in the game.
"Through football we can encourage kids to work together, play to one another’s strengths and, by creating opportunities for them to be more active, help identify Scotland’s future sports stars.”
Dundee United’s Gary Mackay-Steven said: “The atmosphere at this year’s Scottish Communities League Cup ties has been brilliant and I’m really looking forward to the boost of the home support in our fourth round match.
"The lads are really geared up for the Hearts game and we are all focused on getting to Hampden for the final.
"I really enjoy being involved with community projects like this and it’s a real privilege to meet the kids who, judging by the skills on show today, could well be vying for a place in the Cup Final in years to come.”
Ryan Hedley, Scottish FA coach for the association’s East region, said: "We were thrilled to have the Trophy Tour visit our football festival and it was a real highlight for each of the kids to be pictured with the Cup.
"Football is something every child can get involved in, be it taking part in community events, playing for local clubs or simply cheering on their favourite SFL and SPL teams.
"Professional sports people are hugely influential, particularly among school-age children, and its fantastic to be able to show off the positive impact football has in our community and inspire our kids to future success."
This year, the Scottish Government’s sponsorship of the Cup has increased 70 percent to the tune of £1.7 million, £500,000 of which is from the Cashback for Communities programme.
The Cashback initiative invests money seized from criminal activity back into Scotland’s communities and, since the programme's inception in 2007, over 600,000 young people across Scotland have benefited.
Sponsorship of the Scottish Communities League Cup is aimed at getting more young people involved in sport and supporting football league clubs to become community sports hubs, giving more people the opportunity to take part in physical activity.