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Football and reading partnership launched

Children are to be given free football tickets if they excel in reading.

The Scottish Book Trust and football charity the SPFL Trust have launched a new initiative entitled the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge.

Working in partnership with 14 football clubs and local libraries, the challenge aims to inspire children aged five to 12 to read four books in exchange for match tickets.

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.

Although a test project, over 200 libraries, marking more than half the estate in Scotland, will be involved, across 11 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

Scottish Book Trust chief executive Marc Lambert 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 captain Willo Flood is amongst the footballers who have backed the project.

He 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 clubs participating in the project are: Annan Athletic; Arbroath; Dundee; Dundee United; Forfar Athletic; Inverness Caledonian Thistle; Kilmarnock; Livingston; Motherwell; Peterhead; Raith Rovers; Ross County; St Johnstone and Stirling Albion.