UNIQUE after-school clubs at a Clacks academy are helping young people reconnect amid the pandemic.

Alva Academy has been enjoying success with four extra-curricular clubs introduced recently, including an esports team which is set to pave the way for competitive online gaming in schools across the country.

The Wee County secondary boasts the first-ever esports suite in any Scottish secondary school, allowing pupils to pursue skills in a booming online industry.

Esports, short for electronic sports, is a form of multiplayer video gaming – played competitively for spectators to enjoy.

Since the launch of the suite at the end of October, students have been teaming up under the club Alva Alliance Esports, but the school has not forgotten traditional physical sports.

Indeed, the academy has also been successful in introducing a girls' football team and rugby has also exploded.

Meanwhile, a Warhammer club has also taken off, allowing students to create miniatures together and even enter competitions, travelling as far as Birmingham to compete and scoop prizes.

Scott McEwan, headteacher at Alva Academy, said: "Following lockdown one of our main priorities was to give our young people the chance to have fun and be with their friends.

"Through our extra-curricular programme, we wanted to create the memories they will talk about for years from now, laughing with friends and enjoying being part of something they really enjoy.

"As a school we are proud that on any given day there can be up to 12 clubs or groups running.

"Our young people are thriving and the impact is there to see."

The girls football club is full most weeks and a number of pupils have gone on to join other teams in the area.

Rugby is supported through a partnership with Hillfoots RFC and Scottish Rugby Union.

Mr McEwan added: "Our gaming club has taken the virtual world by storm as Alva Alliance has been hugely successful in national competitions and is one of very few schools competing at the highest level.

"We have a real mix of clubs and activities, ranging from dance, gym sessions, music, knitting and debating.

"There is something for everyone and when a young person participates you can see the positive impact it has on their confidence and sense of belonging.

"I am very grateful to the fantastic teachers and partners who contribute but most of all I am grateful to our young people who bring their energy and enthusiasm and have made our programme such a success."