The Premier League has announced a £10.5million investment to improve physical education and sports provision in primary schools.
The three-year programme, launched on Wednesday, aims to use the power of football to offer fun PE and sport sessions to inspire children to participate.
An initial 25 clubs took part in the pilot year of the programme with more than 103,000 pupils taking part in 66,000 sessions in 1,279 schools.
The Premier League has now committed to rolling it out to some 67 professional football clubs across England and Wales.
Organisers say the quality and sustainability of the programme are key – with 612 club coaches now working towards accredited school sport qualifications while 285 teachers have been given Premier League training to deliver PE sessions to secure a long-term legacy for schools.
The scheme also offers opportunities for children to move into competitive sport if they want.
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive said: “The high-quality football put on by Premier League clubs, and the popularity that it generates, allows us to invest in and support community sports facilities, school sport, and a variety of sports participation projects.
“Investing in the primary school sector, where everything begins, is a perfect fit with our overarching strategy of aiming to get more young people playing sport.
“The success of the first year of this initiative – with 66,000 PE lessons delivered by our club coaches - has given clubs the confidence to roll it out further and complement the huge amount of work they are already doing in the secondary school sector.”
Children’s Minister Edward Timpson MP, talking after visiting Temple Primary in Manchester and participating in a PE lesson delivered by coaches from Manchester City’s foundation, City in the Community, welcomed the announcement.
He said: “High-quality PE and sport should be at the heart of every school’s curriculum. There is excellent evidence that regular physical activity can impact positively on pupils’ cognitive function, concentration, behaviour, and overall physical health - all things that can impact positively on wider attainment. Instilling PE and sport in a child’s life as early as possible can bring enormous benefits and can really help set them up to stay fit and healthy for life.
“One of this government’s key objectives is to improve the quality of PE and school sport both through the primary PE and sport premium and through building better community links between schools and local clubs. This approach gives schools the opportunity to invest sustainably in staff development. I saw both during my visit, with coaches working effectively with school staff to give them the confidence and skills they need to provide high quality PE and sport all year-round.”