DELIGHTED Alloa youngster Brandon Jardine hopes the experience of playing at a professional football stadium could be the start of big things to come.

Representing Clacks United, the 15-year-old was at the Bank of Scotland Midnight League Central Regional Final at Broadwood Stadium, home of Clyde FC, on Wednesday, June 28, with former Scotland midfielder Kevin Thomson watching the action unfold.

The league is a national network of diversionary 5-a-side football activities, targeting 12 to 16-year-old boys and girls across the country.

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 takes place in all 32 Scottish local authorities.

And for Jardine, a pupil at Alloa Academy, the occasion of playing at prestigious stadium is one step towards his dream of playing professionally.

He said: “We won a few of our games, which was great, and it’s great to come down and play inside such a big stadium.

“It’s great fun – you’re playing football with your mates against other schools.

“Usually most of us have only been in a stadium once or twice. But hopefully this is taste of things to come.

“It’s great being inside one and actually playing on a professional pitch. I’d love to be a professional footballer.

“I’m an Arsenal fan, because I’ve always liked watching them play.”

Played across three categories – junior (12-13-year-old boys), senior (14-16-year-old boys) and a girl’s section – more than 200 young footballers from across the central belt of Scotland took to the pitch at the Broadwood Stadium.

Ambassador Thomson was on hand to present medals and trophies to participants, and was thoroughly impressed with the number of talented youngsters on show.

The 32-year-old, whose career includes spells at Hibernian, Rangers and Middlesbrough, had been involved with the league programme for many years and said it was a real privilege to be at Broadwood.

He added: “To give over 200 young male and female footballers the opportunity to play at a professional stadium gives inspiration to achieving their dream of playing at stadiums as a professional footballer one day.

“It’s an incentive for parents to use it as a treat for the kids to keep them off the streets, to keep them out of mischief and to use it as an incentive to stick at school.

“There’s so many opportunities for kids – sometimes those can be bad opportunities and programmes like this can distract them from that and keep them on the straight and narrow.

“When you’re a kid, if that’s your dream to become a professional footballer or just enjoy football then you should always play with a smile on your face.

“When I was younger, we had a ball and it used to be old-fashioned way of putting hoodies and jumpers down to make goals. We didn’t have a pitch, and we’d play wherever there was a spare bit of grass.

“To have a facility like this, with good preparation and equipment, good attention to detail is great, as you want to give the kids the best chance.”

Bank of Scotland Midnight League is a free community football programme delivered across all 32 local authorities in Scotland, aimed at boys and girls aged 12-16.

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