Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson was welcomed to Hampden yesterday to hear about the positive impact the CashBack for Communities programme has had on young people across Scottish football.

CashBack for Communities is a Scottish Government programme that takes funds recovered from the proceeds of crime and invests them into free activities and programmes for young people across Scotland.

The CashBack for Communities Portfolio Day brought together partners of the CashBack programme to Hampden to hear inspirational tales of the opportunities the programme has provided along with best practice for maximising its effect.

Among the speakers were three young volunteers who have benefited directly from the programme to achieve their goals of achieving professional qualifications to enable them to work in football when they otherwise may not have had the financial backing and mentorship required to do so.

In addition to the presentations, pupils from one of the Scottish FA’s Schools of Football, John Paul Academy in Maryhill, Glasgow, treated the Justice Secretary to a demonstration of the skills developed from coaching provided through the programme.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “I was pleased to visit Hampden Park to meet with the young people and coaches involved in the Scottish FA’s CashBack-funded projects.

“It was fantastic to hear real stories that show the positive impact that these activities can have on young people’s lives and I am keen to ensure that such opportunities continue to be provided in disadvantaged communities across Scotland.”

Sam Linton, Performance Adviser at Inspiring Scotland, said: CashBack has had a huge impact and touched every corner of Scotland.

“More than 350,000 people have been involved in the programme over the last three years, 5,500 of which have gone into jobs as a result of their participation and 21,000 of whom have got accreditations that have given them skills and knowledge to achieve things they didn’t think they could have done.

“It’s achieved a huge amount but we have only scratched the surface – we think that the future is very bright for CashBack.”

Paul McNeill, Regional Head at the Scottish FA, said: “CashBack for communities has been tremendously impactful for Scottish Football over the past eight years and we are extremely grateful to the Scottish Government for their investment in young people through the programme.

The programme opens doors for young people with a lot of social challenges – deprivation, lack of education, social exclusion – and allows them to achieve great success to which they may otherwise not even have aspired.”

Since 2008 the Scottish FA and the Scottish Government have partnered through the CashBack for Communities programme to make a strong impact in communities across Scotland, providing free football activities for young people.

The programme has benefited thousands of people through projects supporting volunteer development, schools in deprived communities and participation opportunities, such as:

  • Its investment in Girls’ and Women’s football has seen the number of registered players increase from 3,800 to 10,766 in five years, exceeding the target of 8,000 set for Phase 3.
  • The programme funds 36 Schools of Football, offering daily football coaching to more than 900 pupils in the most deprived areas of the country, in order to develop their social and cognitive skills.
  • The My Volunteer & Inspire Project, which offers 180 young people individually developed learning pathways including coaching courses and places volunteers in appropriate roles useful to their development. 

With the latest three-year funding tranche underway, the programme will now take a stronger stance on helping to tackle Scotland’s inequalities, focusing on young people particularly disadvantaged by living in areas of deprivation.