Updated: Thursday, 23rd January 2020 @ 1:00pm

Man Utd hero Peter Schmeichel claims more cash for grass roots sport would keep youths out of trouble

Man Utd hero Peter Schmeichel claims more cash for grass roots sport would keep youths out of trouble

| By Kenny Lomas

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel has said more must be done to create opportunities for disadvantaged youths to engage in sports.

The former United keeper was speaking at Old Trafford Sports Barn to mark the tenth anniversary of Barclays Spaces for Sports, which has created more than 200 community sports sites across the UK.

Barclays, along with the Football Foundation, have ploughed more than £730,000 between them into the Trafford site, turning a barren wasteland into a community hub of sporting activity.

“Just imagine if all this wasn’t here,” he told MM. “What would happen then?

“You’d have kids hanging around street corners doing absolutely nothing, being bored, and what do they do when they get bored?

“Then one day they might be a little bit cheeky to someone, then the next day it’s worse, and it escalates right?

“When they come over here, all they think about is the ball. Look at the smile on all the kids’ faces here.”

Since 2004 Barclays have invested £40million in community sport sites around the country, with the Football Foundation investing £30million.

More than 53,000 people use the sites every week, for a range of sports.

SAFE HANDS: Schmeichel believes more funding for facilities is needed

“I think it’s needed and I think Barclays should be praised for putting up this initiative,” Schmeichel  said.

“Unfortunately there are only 200 of them. But this is so important.”

Despite praising the programme, Schmeichel believes much more needs to be done and more support needs to be given from councils to support such initiatives.

“There’s a lot still left to be done,” he told MM. “When you look at how taxpayer’s money is being spent, and how much is spent on things that you say ‘why’?

“If you start with this, more kids wouldn’t get into trouble, I’m convinced about that. I’ve got no scientific proof of that, but its logic saying that.”

The Spaces for Sports programme aims to revitalise disadvantaged communities by supporting grassroots facilities across the UK.

Barclays Spaces for Sports is part of Barclays’ 5million young futures ambition – a goal to help five young people around the world develop the skills they need to fulfil their potential.

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Undoubtedly the programme has created a lasting sports infrastructure legacy that can get people active and regenerate hundreds of deprived communities across the UK.