Three of Yorkshire's main football clubs are to use football to help cut reoffending rates by teaching prisoners coaching badges.
Leeds United, Rotherham United and Doncaster Rovers are among 32 English Football League and Premier League clubs who have agreed to become part of the ‘Twinning Project’ where they will work with local prisons.
Staff from the clubs will work with PE teachers from the Prison Service to deliver coaching, stewarding, lifestyle skills, and other qualifications to prisoners to help them give them a better chance of paid employment when they are released. Refereeing courses will also be offered as part of the initiative.
The scheme, which was launched last October, is backed by the Government and is the brainchild of former Arsenal and Football Association vice-chairman David Dein. It is hoped the initiative will reduce the UK's high rate of recidivism - two out of every three adults released from a British prison currently reoffend within 12 months.
Other clubs to sign up include Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs.
Mr Dein said: “It is testament to the vision and purpose of the Twinning Project that such a large group of football clubs have agreed to participate in trying to tackle a difficult problem in our society.
"We are in active talks with many other clubs and look forward to welcoming them to the Twinning Project. We will use football as a force for good that will deliver real change for people and communities across the UK.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Rehabilitation should be at the heart of every prison and although I am clear that offenders are sent to prison as punishment, they should leave with it having been a real turning point in their lives.
"The Twinning Project provides opportunities for offenders to do just that, a true chance for change, which offers dedicated training opportunities, coaching qualifications and fosters skills such as teamwork, leadership and confidence - ultimately helping to reduce reoffending.”
Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: "The Twinning Project is one of the most positive and inspiring projects that I have seen.
"It takes some of the most famous elite professional organisations in the world, and twins them with some of our most challenged prisons, and by doing so can literally change lives.
"David Dein in particular has been a heroic and patient leader bringing this extraordinary project together.
"I am hugely grateful to him and to the community departments and the clubs themselves who have invested their time and money in engaging with offenders and helping them reintegrate into society and lead more positive lives.
"This initiative is good for prisoners, and through changing their lives, it is good for society as a whole - we owe the Twinning Project a great debt of gratitude."