Football’s transformative impact on the lives of young people in Scotland takes centre stage as the Scottish FA’s 2023 CashBack for Communities Annual Report is released.

This initiative, introduced by the Scottish Government, channels funds confiscated from criminals into providing free activities and programmes for youth across Scotland, with a focus on underprivileged areas.

A longstanding partner in this endeavour, the Scottish FA have been working alongside the Scottish Government to deliver life-changing projects for the past fifteen years. The 2023 report, which can be read here, includes compelling case studies showcasing the positive impact on communities across the nation.

The 2023 annual report completes the final stage of Phase 5 of the partnership between the Scottish FA and the Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities project and allows for the transition into the new Phase 6 aspects of the project. Phase 5 was another very successful delivery phase and allowed the Scottish FA to build further relationships with clubs, schools and other stakeholders to help deliver these transformational projects, particularly in the challenging period coming out of the covid-19 pandemic.   

Working closely with partner clubs and schools, the programme has been able to reach over 3000 young people in Scotland in the last year alone – as part of Phase 5 of the CashBack programme.

A wide range of different initiatives have taken place, with football used as the catalyst to provide positive experiences and opportunities for children and young people.

Phase 5 has been split between two main strands – My Football Community, which is delivered in schools, and Volunteer and Inspire Programme (VIP) which is tailored towards young people aged between 16 and 24 who are pursuing a career in the game.

Within My Football Community, the Schools of Football (SoF) curricular programme supports S1-2 pupils on their confidence and their transition into secondary school, while the GoFitba project  - led by the Scottish Football Partnership – is designed to target holiday hunger amongst children living in deprived areas. Through GoFitba, 1299 young people attended camps and 6495 free meals were provided. Also included in the schools programmes is the delivery of Scottish FA Coach Education courses, which has seen over 500 pupils within their coaching journey with an ‘Introduction to Coaching’ certificate.

The Volunteer and Inspire Programme (VIP) returned for 2023 with another 116 participants completing the course, which brings young people together to help develop a range of practical and personal skills that will be useful in their future life and career. One such graduate of the programme, Erin Dignon, gained experience at Rangers Women, shadowing coaching and helping to organise matches, before implementing these learnings at her own team.

Another notable achievement of the past year has been the success of club-led activities such as Street Soccer and Midnight League. These initiatives, that offer free football in the evenings, have seen almost 500 young people attend, with two thirds of them coming from the SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) areas 1, 2 and 3.)

Paul McNeill, Head of Football Development at the Scottish FA, said: "Over the past 15 years, our collaboration with the CashBack for Communities initiative has been a beacon of transformation for countless young individuals nationwide, particularly those facing socio-economic challenges.

“Engaging in our national sport has been instrumental in shaping countless lives and this year’s annual report bears further witness to this.

"This remarkable program truly embodies the power of football to generate positive societal impacts, and we eagerly anticipate sustaining our partnership with the Scottish Government to foster lasting changes in the lives of young Scots in the coming years."

The Scottish FA are excited to continue its partnership with CashBack for Communities and the Scottish Government in Phase 6 as we continue to deliver more transformational projects; for further information please check out our Regional social media channels.