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DRAGON SPORT’S COUNTDOWN TO KICK-OFF

14 Aug 2006

The claxon to the start of the 2006-2007 Premiership football season was sounded in style at the weekend as the mighty Liverpool trounced Chelsea at the curtain raising Community Shield contest at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.Football01a

And as enthusiasts of the beautiful game up and down the country look tantalisingly ahead to ten months of goalmouth action and touchline theatre, the Sports Council for Wales’ Dragon Sport scheme is aiming to ensnare the future Welsh footballing wizards into its clutches.

The lottery funded initiative provides extra-curricular physical activity opportunities for primary school children throughout Wales and focuses on eight sports – cricket, hockey, golf, athletics, netball, rugby, tennis and football. It has recruited more than 100,000 participants since its launch in October 2000.

And as kick-off to the new season sounds, Dragon Sport has stepped in to help fans avoid placing penalties on their future health as it works to encourage youngsters to steer their eyes away from the TV screens and to keep their eyes on the ball.

Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling said:

"Football is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports for boys and for girls – it’s a great way to get fit and to meet new friends. Dragon Sport provides so

many opportunities to play and now is a perfect time to get involved during the school holidays and ahead of the new season."

Indeed, John Toshack’s national squad will be turning their attentions to their Euro 2008 qualification campaign which starts in September as they begin their long road to the competition in Austria and Switzerland.

And Dragon Sport will be taking inspiration from the national squad’s qualification exploits by providing football opportunities to budding Earnshaws and Gabbidons throughout the year.

The programme is just one example of how the Sports Council for Wales is embracing the gauntlet laid down by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Health Challenge Wales drive - the national focus to secure greater ownership, commitment and action for better health, as part of a co-coordinated and sustained effort to improve levels of health in Wales.

The initiative has attracted the support of world-renowned athletes such as Simon Jones, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Nicole Cooke and Gavin Henson who are long-standing Ambassadors of the scheme.

One of the main aims of the scheme is to recruit and train volunteer sports organisers, leaders and coaches – especially the real experts on children....parents and teachers.