YOUNG footballers put their fitness to the test as they underwent a gruelling seven day challenge in aid of good causes.

Members of the Port Glasgow BC 2008s squad, who are coached by local dad Derek Watters, took part in a rigorous challenge which saw them pounding the pavements as they raised £850 for Ardgowan Hospice and Children in Poverty Inverclyde.

Derek, who is the pro at Gourock Golf Club, said the lads did themselves proud as they work hard and continue to keep in contact online during the football shutdown.

He told the Tele: “We’ve got 15 boys, all aged 11 or 12, and during the lockdown we’ve been using Zoom to do training sessions, circuits or challenges to keep them engaged during the pandemic.

“A couple of weeks ago, we decided to give them a seven day challenge with different exercises to do each day and on top of that we asked them if they could try and get some sponsorship from their friends and family and we would donate to a local charity.

“The kids got on board with it really well and enjoyed taking part, as did the parents.

"We didn’t expect to raise as much as we did but between all the kids, myself and the other coach, Graham Stevenson, we’ve managed to raise £850.

“We had the kids doing a 1k run, squats, planks, sit-ups and burpees.

“They’re a fit group of boys, we’ve always worked hard on their fitness so they were very keen to do it.

“The boys are spread out across Port Glasgow, Langbank, Gourock and Greenock.

"They have all got other stuff going on in their lives at what could be a worrying time for them just now, as they move from primary into high school and then on the park from seven-a-side football to 11-a-side.

“It’s such a shame for them just now that with coronavirus going on that they can't do it smoothly, so it’s been good to help ease the pressure off of them but also have some great charities in the local area benefit from it.

“It was brilliant to see everyone chip in and do their part.

“We opened it up to the parents and the kids to see which charities they wanted to donate the money to, which is where we ended up tying in with the hospice and Children in Poverty Inverclyde.

“I know Pat Burke from Children in Poverty very well and a few of the girls at the hospice, and they were delighted that we’d managed to raise some money for them.

“We’re well aware of the great work that they do in the area."

Derek says everyone is eager to get the lads back out on the park as they look to progress to the next stage in their development.

He hopes that grassroots football will be thought about more carefully by the game's governing bodies as lockdown is gradually lifted.

Derek said: “Grassroots football hasn’t been spoken about in the slightest and to be honest we don’t even know when we’re going to be allowed to get these boys back together.

“Professional football has had a training restart, so hopefully we can follow suit at some point soon.

"It's important not just for the kids’ physical health but for their mental health as well, not being cooped up in the house and unable to see their pals.”

CASH BOOST: Ardgowan Hospice ambassador and Celtic and Scotland star Greg Taylor and Children in Poverty Inverclyde's Pat Burke accept the donations from Port Glasgow BC coach Derek Watters with his son Euan and his team-mate Lyle Anderson.