Hampden roar as young Scots score for fair play

26th March 2004 at 00:00
The dismal fortunes of Scottish football were set aside this week as pupils from across Scotland assembled at Hampden Park to show that they are in the premier league when it comes to attacking racism, John Cairney writes.

The fixture was the presentation of awards for the anti-racism arts competition organised by the Educational Institute of Scotland and the charity Show Racism the Red Card. A tenth of Scotland's schools registered for the competition, according to Roddy McNulty, education development worker with Show Racism the Red Card.

Bertie Vogts, the national coach, was invited but failed to show - perhaps he is preoccupied. Rainer Bonhof, the under-21s coach, did find space in his diary - no doubt keen to find out what it is like to celebrate success.

There were no sick parrots, only a large colourful puffin, the mascot of Partick Thistle, which joined those of Dundee and Dundee United to entertain the young Tartan Army in the lecture theatre below the main stand.

Hosted by BBC Scotland sports correspondent Kheredine Idessane, whose name is Moroccan but who has 50 per cent Musselburgh blood through his mother, the event was in danger of being upstaged when a media posse tackled Celtic defender John Kennedy, intent on getting his angle on last night's Uefa Cup tie between Celtic and Barcelona.

The timely intervention of referee Sheena Wardhaugh, president-elect of the EIS, restored the balance and the lucky prizewinners were duly put through their paces.

Top scorer of the day was Sean Canning, aged 17, of Glenburn School in Greenock who won the special schools' category for artwork and an award of pound;1,000 for the best overall submission.

Sean was up against formidable opposition in the form of artwork and poems from primary, secondary and special schools from Skye and Shetland to Lockerbie and Kelso and a drama offering on video from Donaldson's School for the Deaf in Edinburgh.

Getting to the final was an achievement in itself, according to Eileen McGeer, the headteacher at Glenburn. "All 29 pupils who have opted for art took part," she said, "and the best was then chosen by the school board."

The anti-racist subject-matter was not a problem in Glenburn because the school gives a special focus to the issue in personal and social education lessons, though this was the first time pupils had entered the competition.

There could be more of a focus on television screens in the school if winner Sean has his way - he would like to see some of the money spent on a DVD player. Schoolmate Elizabeth Baxter hankers after more school trips while Iain Davidson would like to see art teacher Louise Brennan-Stewart given "a proper office".

Sadly for the national coach, no one mentioned spending the money on coming to watch the Scotland team.

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