MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has backed a scheme designed to boost the employability of socially disadvantaged young people and adults through football.
The 80-hour Football Works personal development programme includes coaching activities and vocational training leading to qualifications.
It aims to improve the prospects of people who have experienced difficulties such as homelessness, addiction, offending behaviour, poor health and long-term unemployment.
The scheme, set up through a new partnership between charitable housing association Dunedin Canmore Group and social enterprise Street Soccer (Scotland), will help 500 adults and young people aged over 16 in Edinburgh over the next three years.
Sir Alex said: “Football Works is a great initiative using sport as a tool for personal development, education and employability. There is a high level of unemployment today, particularly among young people, and programmes like this will hopefully provide a positive destination for those involved.”
The launch is being marked with a football tournament involving up to 300 players from across the capital.
David Duke, chief executive of Street Soccer (Scotland) said: “Football really does have the power to inspire. We know it can have a positive impact on health, social inclusion and break negative routines often experienced in some people’s lives.
“The Football Works programme will focus on work skills, training, personal development and coaching, all of which lead to SQA qualifications and are delivered in a sports-based environment.”