THE EXPRESSIVE art of trapping and passing a football that sometimes appears to be beyond many in the national team has been absorbed into the formal curriculum of more than 60 North Lanarkshire primaries.
Coaching on the 5-14 curriculum involves 3,500 pupils as part of the council's joint initiative with the Scottish Football Association, which councillors were told this week was a "major success story".
The football development programme is the first of its kind in the country. The SFA co-funds the staff. Eight after-school centres have been established to build on the progress in the expressive arts curriculum and coaches are currently working with around 1,200 pupils, aged 5-8 and 9-14.
A network of soccer-sevens leagues involves 24 schools in the Airdrie area, 53 in Motherwell and 31 around Cumbernauld with almost 1,400 players taking part.
The programme includes holiday football camps and soccer festivals, such as the Fun Fours event, which last year attracted 80 primary teams and 540 pupils. All primaries have been promised fun days in the summer term to help promote mass participation in sport.
The focus is on primary pupils but more than 100 girls in S1-S3 have joined four development groups. Two hundred secondary boys have joined an after-school coaching programme, concentrating on small-sided games.
Some 30 senior pupils are taking the SFA's initial courses for coaching primary pupils.