Loanhead teenager Angyl Learmonth said she will never forget the experience of showing a Scottish football stalwart what she can do on a football pitch at Falkirk Stadium.
Angyl (16), was her team’s successful ‘Community Captain’ at The Bank of Scotland Midnight League South East Regional Final last week, where she had the chance to meet Falkirk midfielder Mark Kerr.
The Bank of Scotland Midnight League is a network of five-a-side football games that aims to keep youngsters aged between 12 and 16 off the streets and give them something to do on a Friday and Saturday night.
Run in partnership with the Scottish FA, and supported by the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities programme, local council or trust funding, the Bank of Scotland Midnight League programme has expanded over the last 13 years to be established in all 32 Scottish local authorities with more than 7,000 young people participating across 100 communities each year.
The ‘Community Captains’ initiative was new this year and sees each participating skipper handed key responsibilities, which includes organising their squad’s attendance, encouraging good behaviours, and promoting the sessions.
Angyl, who attends Lasswade High School, said: “It’s the second year in a row we’ve won it, they brought in the community captains this year and I got to choose the team.
“It was good to give girls that have never had the chance at a professional stadium, that chance.
“It was great to see them shine on a big pitch.
“I was invited last year as an extra but I came to training this year and have helped coach the younger girls, it’s been great.
“All the girls, now, have joined Hearts, which is a really good club.
“I was playing under-15s football with them last season and now I’m training with their first team and playing for the ladies reserves.
“Playing Midnight League has really helped me, I’ve come on a lot and it’s given me the confidence I need as a footballer.”
The Bank of Scotland Midnight League South East Regional Final at Falkirk Stadium saw more than 220 youngsters take part and among the spectators was Kerr, who returned to Falkirk in January 2015 after beginning his career with The Bairns in 1998.
And the 34-year-old was hugely impressed with what he saw, saying: “It’s a great set-up, the kids are delighted to have a big football party in a big stadium and it was good to see them enjoying themselves.
“It’s great to see how big it’s got and it still continues to be sponsored by Bank of Scotland.
“I was lucky enough that my parents took me everywhere and I was focussed on football so that kept me away from other distractions.
“But there are friends and other people I know really well that this would’ve been great for, to have some support.
“It benefits the kids massively and there’s some really good wee players. A bit of aggression and competitiveness, which is great, they want to be winners.
“It’s good putting that in and then after the game seeing them shake hands and respecting each other.
“It gives them a wee taster for life I think, the respect you need for other people, while wanting to do well.”
Bank of Scotland Midnight League is a free national network of diversionary 5-a-side football activity, targeting male and females between 12 to 16 year olds across the country. For more information please visit: www.scottishfa.co.uk/midnightleague