Pupils having a ball at football skills sessions

POLICE and community wardens showed they are on the ball by teaching pupils football skills at Bearsden Academy.

The project is the result of a partnership between East Dunbartonshire Council, the Leisure and Culture Trust (EDLCT), the police and the Scottish Football Association.

East Dunbartonshire Council’s community steering group provided £11,850 funding towards the 2011 to 2012 programme which will see 23 police officers and two environmental wardens visiting a number of primary and secondary schools in East Dunbartonshire to deliver football coaching sessions.

Building on the success of a similar initiative last year between East Dunbartonshire schools and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, the programme aims to build positive relations between police officers, environmental wardens and young people.

Councillor Amanda Stewart, convener of housing and communities at East Dunbartonshire Council, said: “I’d like to congratulate the police officers and environmental wardens and thank them for their commitment to young people who will no doubt benefit greatly from this.

“This is a proactive and preventative scheme which offers wider benefits for communities and the community safety steering group is pleased to fund and support it.

“By playing sports with pupils our front line officers can build trust and respect among young people for the role they play in our communities.” The officers have completed a Scottish Football Association approved level one coach education course to take part in this.

Community police Inspector John O’Neill said: “We are working closely with communities to keep people safe and participating in this means that we can engage with children and young adults.

“Playing sport encourages teamwork and healthy living choices and improves various cognitive skills. We also hope that it will encourage children to make positive choices.

“I’m delighted that the community policing team is so keen to get involved and that they recognise the value of the venture. They have given up some of their free time to ensure that it is a success.”

The programme aims to develop youngsters’ skills, confidence and self-respect and may help to reduce anti-social behaviour.