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Premier League footballer and Northern Ireland international Gareth McAuley paid a visit to Hareleeshill Primary in Larkhall to launch Coerver Coaching’s new Partner School Programme.
The 37-year-old West Brom defender was put through his paces along with some pupils during a coaching session, before taking part in a question and answer session in front of the whole school.
The initiative will deliver weekly coaching sessions to every child from nursery to primary seven regardless of ability, and a further 21 selected pupils have joined the new School of Football which will provide them with three focused coaching sessions per week as well as ongoing mentoring.
McAuley was full of praise for the style of coaching the kids would now benefit from. He said: 'This Coerver scheme is a great thing, and a lot of top clubs in Europe have used it. It’s all with the ball and promotes development.
'It’s that fundamental ability to use the ball, ability to control the ball and manipulate it. It's stuff that they’ll take with them, stuff that will develop as they grow and move forward. It’s important to grasp that as early as possible and allow the kids to develop.'
In addition to the football-specific benefits of Coerver Coaching, the scheme aims to develop pupils' communication, concentration, confidence, co-operation, and self-control. Kevin Kearney, leading the programme on behalf of the school, said:
'The Scottish Attainment Challenge funding has given us the opportunity to provide school wide sports coaching of the highest quality which many of our pupils would have difficulty accessing.
'The funding also gives us the opportunity to engage children in learning using this different approach to meet their needs.
'Children have the opportunity to develop footballing skills, life skills and recognise that hard work and commitment has its rewards’.
Joe Jones, Coerver Coaching Scotland Technical Director, said: 'We are delighted to be working with Hareleeshill Primary School.
'Coerver Coaching has been committed to developing life skills in young people since we started in 1984. This partnership gives us a real opportunity to help contribute to making a difference to the lives of the young players involved, alongside improving their football ability'.
Coerver has worked with the French and Brazilian football federations over their 33-year history and with clubs such as Real Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester United, and one of their current Partner clubs is Rangers.