AS THIS season's professional football season gets underway, budding Messis in the Moorlands can sharpen their skills at free coaching sessions.
The Street Soccer scheme has operated for the last two years and, thanks to its success, is once again taking place at recreation grounds across the district, thanks to a partnership between Leek Town FC Community and the Moorlands Together Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership.
This year's programme runs for an extended block of 12 weeks up to the week ending September 26.
Football sessions will be led by Leek Town coaches at the following locations from 7pm to 8pm:
• Mondays – Ball Haye Recreation Ground, Leek;
• Tuesdays – Cheddleton Recreation Ground;
• Wednesdays – Blythe Bridge Recreation Ground;
• Thursdays – Brown Edge playing fields;
• Fridays – Churchill Road playing fields, Cheadle;
Members of the partnership joined last week's session in Leek to meet up with some of the young people taking part this year.
Councillor Gill Burton, cabinet member for communities at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: "It was great to see just how popular these sessions are and talk to some of the young people who are enjoying learning from each other and from the coaches.
"They are valuable activities that provide a constructive environment for groups of young people who can come together and socialise in a positive way, and I'm delighted that so many are taking part.
"It's the third year the council has provided funding and it seems our investment is paying off."
Councillor Brian Johnson, cabinet member for leisure, sport, parks and countryside, said: "Keeping young people occupied during the long summer break can be challenging so these sessions, which are free, are a fantastic way for people to stay active and keep in touch with their friends.
"We know football is a popular activity and the World Cup earlier this summer will have heightened interest in the sport so it's great that we are able to continue to provide these sporting opportunities for our young people."
The training is free to youngsters aged between eight and 18 as the course's costs are being met by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Your Moorlands.
There is no need to book in advance – just turn up in good time.
"Each session is led by two coaches who have been checked fully by the Disclosure and Barring Service.