TWENTY years of youth football in West Fife has been highlighted and praised for its "inclusive, safe and supporting environment" at Westminster.

Fife Soccer 7s was hailed in the Houses of Parliament after an Early Day Motion was submitted by Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman.

The youth initiative, which was founded in 1997 to support the development of young players and coaches within a safe and friendly environment, has given thousands of youngsters the chance to hone their skills at Pitreavie Playing Fields.

The Fife Soccer Sevens Development Association (FSSDA), whose chairman is Andi Campbell, began with 30 teams taking part but now have 165 affiliated teams and host up to 1,700 kids the opportunity to play football every weekend.

The EDM written by Mr Chapman, who met with Andi along with parents and children on Sunday, "recognises the group's success in improving the skills and fitness of Fife children, irrespective of ability, in an inclusive, safe and supportive environment; praises the commitment and effort of the volunteer coaches who give up their free time to ensure local children have an opportunity to play football in their community and to nurture sporting talent amongst young players."

Early Day Motions are submitted by MPs to draw wider public attention to specific events or groups in their constituency and it was backed by 16 other MPs to show support, while Mr Chapman also commended the group for investing in a life-saving defibrillator last year.

They have also held initiatives in aid of Dunfermline Foodbank and, speaking to Press Sport earlier this year to mark the Soccer 7s 20-year anniversary, Andi said: "On any weekend we can have upwards of 3,500 people here and I doubt there's any place else where kids' football can attract this amount of people on a regular basis.

"It's testament to everyone who buys into it that we can continue to grow. The coaches put a lot of time and effort into it, and so do the partners, but if it wasn't for the coaches, there wouldn't be anything. The plaudits have to go to them; we just put it on for them!

"The football is the end result but it's not just about that. We give players a chance to nurture their skills but it's the social inclusion that we like and thrive on. Kids of different genders and backgrounds mix well and they make great pals, as do the parents.

"They get skills not just for football, but for life."