Scotland coach Craig Levein went to see first-hand the progress being made by pupils at a Scottish FA-run School of Football in Fife this week.
Kirkland High School in Methil is in its first year of operating the programme which aims to develop the social and academic skills of first and second year pupils.
“It has been great to come and see in person the work being done to improve the skills of these young people through the medium of football,” said Fifer Levein.
“The School of Football programme is assisting in improving off-field life skills, as well as on it too, which I think is an excellent scheme the Scottish FA is involved with.”
The international manager was invited by long-time friend Jimmy Bone, a Scottish FA player and coach development officer for the east of Scotland, to answer questions from the school’s pupils.
“I thought they were very interesting questions and enjoyed providing my insight into the game,” added Levein.
PE teacher at Kirkland High Allan Stevens said he had noticed a “marked improvement” in the attendance and academic performance of the school’s pupils.
“The school is growing from strength to strength in its first year and having the Scotland manager here today has energised the pupils even more,” he added.
Head of Health and Well-being at the school Nicola Cunningham said since the school had begun, pupils with additional support needs were engaging with life at Kirkland High in a more positive manner.
She added: “It has been brilliant to have Craig Levein here. There is no doubt it has provided the pupils with inspiration and information about the benefits of football.”
The programme started in 2008 and there are currently 16 Schools of Football across the country, delivering over 5000 hours of practice to 440 pupils.
The Scottish FA Schools of Football are supported by the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities initiative.
Players are selected on footballing ability as well as a range of other criteria.
Scottish FA coaches lead the selection and football aspects, but the programme is very much a partnership with local authority education departments, school teachers, active schools co-ordinators and football development officers.