One of the Scottish FA's partners in grassroots football held their annual Midnight League Finals for the Northern region recently.
Over 100 young people participated in the annual event at Pittodrie stadium in Aberdeen.
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 the North of Scotland were represented at the tournament which was played across two categories – 12-13 years and 14 years and over boys.
Aberdeen and Scotland U21 player Ryan Jack was on hand to lend his support and help with the medal and trophy presentations.
At the end of a fun-packed day the Speyside team from Moray came out on top in the 12-13 years category, beating Oban in a close fought final. Ellon were triumphant in the 14 and over category completing a memorable day for the local authority and its coaches.
Bank of Scotland Midnight League is a national network of diversionary 5-a-side football activity, targeting 12 to 16 year olds across the country.
Run in partnership with the Scottish FA, and the government’s Cashback for Communities scheme, the programme has expanded over the last five years to be established in all 32 Scottish local authorities with over 3000 young people participating across over 90 venues each year.
A recent research study by the University of Stirling into the wider social effects and benefits 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 attendees and local police.
Positive effects on individual participants were also noted as a major benefit with over 70% of respondents stating they have improved self-confidence and esteem as a result of participation and almost 80% feeling fitter and healthier.
Ryan Jack said: “The Bank of Scotland Midnight League provides the perfect platform for young people to practice their football skills – it’s free, safe and is played amongst friends.
"Anything that provides a safe environment for children to develop as football players and people can only be of benefit to local communities all over Scotland.”