Free football sessions head to Pilton park after hit-and-run

Children with ex footballers including Paul Kane, Mickey Weir and Allan Preston. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Children with ex footballers including Paul Kane, Mickey Weir and Allan Preston. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Volunteers are to launch free football training tonight in a park plagued by motorbike joyriding.

The Helping Hands group will bring their free community football sessions to Pilton Park for the next four weeks.

A ten-year-old boy is still recovering in hospital after being hit by a stolen motorbike on a crossing outside Drylaw police station, Ferry Road, on Saturday.

“It’s not like we can solve all the problems there,” said Helping Hands co-founder Bradley Welsh. “But we’ve been talking to the community over the last few days and agreed to set-up an emergency site.

“There’s a void of activities for these children that we are trying to fill.

“This is about the whole community – we are taking back parks and giving them a new lease of life.”

Weekly Friday Pilton sessions for seven to 14-year-olds will add to other locations across the city, building to a festival of football in The Meadows on September 10.

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh tweeted his support for the Pilton initiative this week.

Helping Hands sessions on Thursdays in Muirhouse attract between 30 and 40 young players with a similar number expected tonight in Pilton.

Boxer turned T2 star Welsh launched the Helping Hands training sessions earlier this summer in a bid to bring football back to the masses.

Tonight’s training at Pilton will be led by former Hibs player Paul Kane.

Fellow coach Callum Kane, 32, from Drylaw, said: “There isn’t enough to do for kids, especially that’s affordable.

“I was one of these kids myself. This is an alternative to joyriding on the very field it takes place.”

Helping Hands have helped transform parks in Moredun, Muirhouse, Wester Hailes and Leith into training pitches.

Former Hibs footballer Allan Preston and Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths, both from Leith, have already volunteered their time as well as professional coach and Hibs legend Mickey Weir.

City councillors, meanwhile, unanimously passed a motion yesterday to look at further ways the authority can help tackle issues leading to crime and antisocial behaviour.

Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang’s motion recognised the problem of motorbike joyriding by a small minority and the efforts of police in trying to halt it.

“The success in tackling these issues will depend, not just on effective policing but also on improved education and community support,” read Cllr Lang’s proposal.

A Stronger North crackdown launched earlier this summer led to 71 arrests with 15 stolen motorcycles and five stolen cars recovered, among other results.

Led by police with support from the council and Crown, the campaign is also backed by councillors, MSPs, MPs and community representatives.

Cllr Lang’s motion urged the council to commit necessary resources, education and community activities to continue tackling antisocial behaviour.

Councillors called for a report “to address the underlying issues which lead to crime and antisocial behaviour” as part of a longer-term strategy.