On Tuesday 1st May, over 150 young people from across the West of Scotland participated in the annual Bank of Scotland Midnight League West Regional Final at St Mirren Park stadium which is supported by the Scottish FA.
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 West of 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.
St Mirren starlet Marc McAusland and Scotland Women’s International Emma Fernon were on hand to lend their support and help with the medal and trophy presentations.
At the end of a fun-packed day the West Dunbartonshire Leisure side came out on top in the 12-13 years category, beating South Ayrshire in a close fought final. West
Dunbartonshire Leisure were also triumphant in the 14 and over category completing a memorable day for the local authority and its coaches. North Ayrshire’s Greenwood Girls won the Girls section with a dazzling performance in the final.
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 Bank of Scotland Midnight League programme has expanded over the last 5 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.
St Mirren player Marc McAusland 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.”