Today I had the pleasure of joining 2500 young footballers, their coaches and parents in a march through Edinburgh demanding new and improved facilities at football pitches across the city. The march was excellent, colourful, noisy, good humoured and even the weather was good. When we arrived at the Parliament I had the opportunity to speak to Craig and Charlie of the Proclaimers and they told me how important this issue is for them. It is an important issue for me as well, on the one hand we constantly talk of the need to promote exercise amongst youngsters yet we ask them to change in dank, horrible facilities when they play football. We should be doing everything in our power to ensure children get every opportunity to play sport – providing them with top class playing pitches, equipment and all weather training facilities.
As a nation, us Scots, dream of one day lifting the World Cup (I remember Argentina ‘78!) and it has to be said that if we don’t get it right at grassroots level then it will always remain a dream. The coaches and parents who give up their free time to run the thousands of clubs across Scotland do a great job and they should be applauded, but their job isn’t made easier with constantly waterlogged pitches leading to fixture congestion later in the season meaning players are expected to play two or even three games in a week.
Finally I have to say well done to Les Trotter and the others on the Unite The Clubs Forum who worked so hard to organise such a successful event today. Let’s hope the pressure has worked, and I’ll continue to support the campaign until every pitch has been upgraded.