Two councils have joined forces in a bid to host the International Children's Games in 2011.It may be over three years away, but Lanarkshire schoolchildren are gearing up to host the International Children's Games in 2011.
A delegation from the games has already visited schools in North and South Lanarkshire, as well as potential venues to stage events, but a final decision will not be announced until July.
After the feel-good factor of Glasgow securing the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the prospect of a multi-sport event attracting more than 2,000 pupils between the ages of 12 and 15 from 70 countries, is seen as the ideal forerunner.
North and South Lanarkshire councils have joined forces with New Lanarkshire Limited, the civic pride group, and have committed pound;1 million each to underwrite the biggest youth sporting event in the world. Lanarkshire is bidding against Singapore and Daegu, in South Korea, and an announcement on the successful bid will be made at the next International Children's Games in San Francisco in the summer, to which the two councils are sending a joint team for the first time.
"We're very hopeful," says Christine Pollock, executive director of learning and leisure services for North Lanarkshire. "The ICG visit was very positive and we had good vibes. Schools in Lanarkshire know about it and we've sent out information to headteachers and principal teachers of PE.
"We see it as a catalyst to motivate youngsters and we're looking at P6 and 7 pupils who have the potential to be in the team in 2011. This is an ideal opportunity for us to get as many youngsters as we can involved in sport."
Last month, the Scottish Rugby Union threw its weight behind the bid and, although the full list of sports will depend on the facilities available, it is almost certain that rugby and football will be among the 10 to 12 chosen. The core sports are athletics and swimming and Fir Park Stadium, home of Motherwell Football Club, is likely to host the opening and closing ceremonies, should the bid be successful.
North Lanarkshire has been working hard on improving its sports profile. Working with Glasgow University, the council is in the second year of a scheme where primary school teachers are offering specialised PE training one night a week.
Four secondary schools - St Maurice's High in Cumbernauld, St Margaret's High in Airdrie, St Andrew's High in Coatbridge and Braidhurst High in Motherwell - have enhanced PE status.
South Lanarkshire sent a team of 18 to the last games in Reykjavik and won bronze and silver medals in badminton and athletics respectively. There is evidence of youngsters who have competed at the Games going on to make their mark in their chosen sports, the most striking example being Steven Smith, a pupil at John Ogilvie High in Hamilton when he played in the winning South Lanarkshire football team in Hamilton, Canada in 2000, now playing for Rangers.
Amy McDonald, then a pupil at Stonelaw High in Rutherglen, was in the girls' team that struck gold that year. She went on to Queen's Park Football Club, then Kilmarnock women's football team and represented Scotland.
South Lanarkshire has shown its commitment to football by offering free coaching and pitch hire for under 16s in a pound;250,000 scheme.