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An evening football programme aimed at cutting rates of anti-social behaviour is proving to be a big hit in the Swindon area. The Twilight Football scheme is run by Swindon Town Football Club (STFC) in conjunction with Swindon Borough Council and is currently attracting over a hundred young people aged 13-17 to three weekly sessions held in different locations across the town, with a fourth due to start running in 2011.

The scheme is funded by the Football Foundation and is delivered through STFC’s Football in the Community Trust. Participants are referred to the scheme from local agencies, including schools, the police, social services, youth offending teams, sports centres and youth clubs. As well as offering playing opportunities it also encourages young people to become involved in coaching certificates, refereeing courses, young leadership awards and college courses, which can all help with their personal development.

The scheme removes youngsters from local streets where they may have been involved in Anti Social Behaviour or are under threat of becoming involved. Analysis of available data has shown that there is a significant reduction of reported anti-social behaviour in each area on the days when Twilight Football is run.

“We are delighted with the ongoing success of Twilight Football,” says Tim Hall, Football Development Officer at STFC Football in the Community Trust. “Promotion of the programme, due to its objectives and outcomes, means that we are looking at a select group of youngsters who, for whatever reason, are getting into trouble. I certainly feel that our current referral system is a good way of attracting people to this type of project as it uses key agencies to target the correct audience – they have all the necessary data on young people and can identify the youngsters who will most benefit from the programme.”