Free football match tickets offered to children in reading challenge

6 February 2018, 06:36 | Updated: 6 February 2018, 08:22


A free football match ticket is being offered to children if they read four books through a scheme which aims to encourage reading.

Fourteen SPFL clubs and almost 250 libraries are participating in the pilot project, which is open to children aged five to 12.

Clubs and libraries will issue a reading challenge card to children who want to take part and for every book they read, the child will receive a stamp on their card.

When they have read four books, participants will receive a free match ticket while an accompanying adult will be able to purchase a discounted ticket.

The SPFL have provided funding for the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge which is being launched in Dundee on Tuesday.

It is being delivered by the SPFL Trust and Scottish Book Trust in an initial three-month campaign.

Marc Lambert, Scottish Book Trust chief executive, said: "Taking part in sport and reading are both important for young people's physical and mental health.

"As well as being fun, reading for pleasure can increase empathy, reduce stress and improve wellbeing while all the research shows that children who read for pleasure also tend to do better at school.

"We're delighted to work with the SPFL to use sport to encourage a love of reading in Scotland's children."

Dundee United player Willo Flood and Dundee captain Darren O'Dea are among the players backing the initiative.

Mr Flood said: "In today's world with so many gadgets, platforms and websites like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, it can quickly be forgotten how vital and enjoyable reading is.

"Everyone with children loves sitting reading with their kid and I am no different. Reading stimulates the mind in a truly unique way."

The project could be extended across the whole country if it proves to be a success.

SPFL Trust chief executive Nicky Reid said: "The 4-4-2 reading challenge initiative is designed to encourage children who don't regularly visit the library or participate in sport to do so.

"As such, we think it's a real win-win opportunity for all concerned.

"Although this is a pilot project, we have high hopes that it can be a hugely successful programme and so we are grateful to the SPFL for their support to allow us to kick-off."