Paisley youngsters are lapping up extra lessons after school thanks to coaches at St Mirren.
Pupils from Glencoats Primary School in Paisley are taking part in the St Mirren Tea Club in a bid to learn personal and social responsibility through football and interaction. The project is aimed at pupils in primary six and seven at the Ferguslie Park school, near St Mirren Park.
After working on their football skills then youngsters are then given the opportunity to have a healthy hot dinner at the club.
St Mirren coaches provide positive adult role models for the children and the project is being sponsored by the Tartan Army Children’s Charity.
Gary Hocknull, St Mirren’s community coach, is heading up the project and is thrilled by its success.
He told Express Sports: “This is our first go at the initiative and it seems to be running well. We have around 25 primary six and seven kids involved and they come to the stadium after school. We start off with some football drills and small-sided games, with the youngsters being put through their paces by our qualified coaches. Since moving to the new stadium, we have forged great links with Glencoats Primary and we are working in conjunction with the school on this project.”
Gary also revealed how the Tea Club wouldn’t have been possible without funding from the Tartan Army Children’s Charity.
He said: “There is a similar initiative going on at Spartans Football Club in the East of Scotland. I was over there having a look at a few things and the Tea Club jumped out at me. The emphasis is placed firmly on fun and the children also learn social skills when everyone sits down at the end of the session to enjoy a meal together. There is no TV, computer games or any other distraction. We encourage interaction between the group and try to promote confidence to the kids. Being part of a team is important and the success of the programme is dependent on the kids working together as a unit. It’s also about healthy eating and the kids getting some of their five a day, which we supplement by having fruit after the meal. Our coaches are good role models and the kids seem to go away happy afterwards – and that’s what it’s all about. It’s definitely something we would love to continue beyond the initial year of the project.”
Jill Brooks, principal teacher at Glencoats Primary, added:
“It’s always the main topic of conversation at the school the day after, so that shows that the pupils are enjoying it. It encourages the children to get active and play football, which is handy as we’ve just started a school team for both boys and girls. You can just see the skills building up from the coaching they are receiving at St Mirren. We have forged a fantastic relationship with St Mirren and long may it continue. The Tea Club is just the latest in a long of line of initiatives we’ve been involved with alongside Saints.”