When Paul McNeill says of the Scottish FA's Schools of Football programme, "We are not looking for the next Scotland captain, we are looking to improve a person's life," you know he's not talking about a traditional coaching course.

Funded by the Scottish Government’s ‘Cashback for Communities’ initiative, the project targets schools in disadvantaged areas and since it began in 2008, it has been constantly proven to make a positive impact on the lives young people.

The Government has invested another £2 million from the proceeds of crime, which is where the money comes from, for phase 5 of the programme which will look to target 3,600 young people in the three year-cycle.

McNeill, Head of Community Development at the Scottish FA, speaks with pride about one of the governing body's undoubted success stories.

"We go into secondary schools in communities of deprivation, probably blighted by crime and so on and so forth, to work with young people and give them a bit of hope," he said.

"We have targeted two schools from each of the Scottish FA's six regions throughout the country

"The school of football model is the original one and has been a great success.

"The stats are through the roof with regards to how it makes young people feel, their improved health, education and attendance.

"Every year the stats come back positive such as the one that states that 99 per cent of young people have reported that their confidence has improved from being part of the programme. It is pretty remarkable."

McNeill explains the practical side of the programme which involves working with S1 and S2 pupils, "as a minimum although some take it all the way through."

He said: "With the help of the school, we change the timetables and young people will have football contact for four or five hours per week.

"It is not across the whole school. The young people involved are selected from a variety of different ways to ensure we have the right people who will benefit the most.

"The programme allows one of our coaches to go into the schools and takes a classroom based session or pitch-based session and looks at how we build confidence.

"It is not a football-based programme. It is the person first, not the football.

"As I said, we are not looking for the next Scotland captain.

"The young people who come into the programme track above the average attendance at school.

"So from those in the school of football, you always hear things like, 'I'm part of a family; my coach is someone I can rely on; he is really good to me; football gets me up in the morning; it makes me organised.

"The young people feel empowered and because they have a good thing to look forward to, they go into maths, English, the science-based subjects feeling good about themselves and concentrate more."

The project is regularly and "robustly" evaluated by external and objective agents and the government's continuing involvement confirms its success.

McNeill said: "Using the power of football, using the power of team work, the power of camaraderie, the power of another adult in whom you feel confident of going to and saying, 'I don't feel very good about myself, how do we sort it?', allows them to feel more positive about themselves.

"They are not thinking, 'I've failed algebra', they are thinking 'I have had a success today, I have achieved something and I feel good about myself'.

"We go in a three years cycle and the government have said, 'what you are doing is great, let's go again'. So we are now starting phase 5. Let's hope it continues."

READ THE SCOTTISH FA'S 2020 CASHBACK REPORT