Network Rail will partner with the Scottish FA to deliver a series of football camps across central Scotland with the aim of getting young people to stay safe around the railway.

Launched to coincide with national rail safety week in Scotland, the Network Rail-supported football camps will provide young people aged from 5-14 years with an opportunity to participate in football during holiday periods.

Provided by a team of Scottish FA development officers and local community football clubs and working in partnership with Local Authorities, the camps will see 5000 young people participate in 100 football camps throughout 2018.

The football camps will be delivered across eight local authority areas where Network Rail has made significant investment in electrification across central Scotland’s railway network.

As well as small-sided games and technical drills, information about the dangers of the railway environment will be incorporated into fun activities or delivered directly by Officers from the British Transport Police (BTP).

Alex Sharkey, Head of Operations for Network Rail Scotland: “Our railway is one of the safest in Europe, but we still see too many instances of youngsters trespassing on the tracks, particularly during school holidays.

“As we continue to upgrade Scotland’s railway, particularly where we are electrifying lines, we’re keen to explore more opportunities to educate young people about safety and to engage them in the topic in a way that is fun as well as informative.

“We are pleased to be working with the Scottish FA and the British Transport Police and local community partners to deliver this innovative programme that helps young people improve their footballing skills and help us to deliver the important message of ‘Stay safe – Stay off the tracks’.”

Andy Gould, Head of Football Development at the Scottish FA: “We’re delighted to be working with Network Rail and our community scheme partners to put on an extensive programme of football activity during the main school holiday periods in the year ahead.

“As well as engaging our young people in the wonderful game of football, this a fantastic opportunity for us to work with partners at Network Rail and the British Transport Police to educate our young players in rail safety, ensuring they stay safe and stay off the tracks.”

Working with local community football clubs, the initiative will build on the well accepted role of sport as an engagement tool to assist in wider social development and will provide a platform to promote rail safety and other key educational messages. It will also go beyond the participants and target these messages to parents and wider community club members. 

Support from Network Rail and the structured programme that will be put in place, will also help the development of coaches at a community level and enable them to play a fuller role in contributing to and promoting health, well-being and physical activity in communities.