Planes, trains and campervans: The Tartan Army exodus to Germany is well under way

Some 200,000 fans are expected to head to the Euros over the next couple of weeks - but charities hope the tournament also leaves a lasting legacy at home.

The 2024 European Championship has been a long time coming for Martin Riddell. He’s followed Scotland overseas more than 90 times. 

Martin, who is the chair of the Association of the Tartan Army Clubs, has been busy preparing for the Euros for months.

The tournament kicks off on Friday, with Scotland taking on host nation Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

“It’s been years since we’ve managed to travel abroad in large numbers to a tournament and it’s just been incredibly busy for the last few months,” Martin told Scotland Tonight.

“I’ve been over to Germany. I went over in December for the draw. I was over in January for a UEFA fans forum. I did site visits in March to the three host cities that are going to be in the group stage.

“I know what is waiting for Scotland and believe me, it’s going to be brilliant!”

Martin, his son Aidan, and his two pals Dave Murray and David Macniven, left for Munich on Tuesday in Martin’s camper van. 

He said: “Every other Scotland match, you jump on a flight, trains, planes, automobiles, whatever it takes. And this is an opportunity to see some of the country.

“There are a couple of camper vans that already left on Saturday, and they’re already in Germany.

Martin, son Aidan and his friends have been gearing up to head to Germany.

“There are four of us leaving today (Tuesday). We will be meeting our friends down at Dunbar, then we will travel down to Hull.

“We’ll get the ferry to Rotterdam and then we’re going to shoot straight to Munich and we’ll meet up with another three camper vans in our party.

“And then another two are arriving the following day. So we’re gonna have a fair old convoy.

“There’ll be a few beers, a few whiskeys and a few wines, and a few stories shared as well. For my young son who, being his first tournament, I just have to make sure he doesn’t tell his mum.”

Some 200,000 fans are expected to head to the Euros over the next couple of weeks.

But for those who can’t get involved in the Euros hype in Germany, there’s still a lot happening on the ground in Scotland.

On The Ball Academy provides football tuition for children across Glasgow

On The Ball Academy – a charity that supports kids and their families across Glasgow by providing football tuition, education, and kit to those who may not be able to afford it – has been busy distributing 1,090 balls to children in the area.

The balls represent the number of miles between Glasgow and Munich.

By Friday, the team will have visited more than 100 schools across the city.

Ryan Docherty, chief executive of the On The Ball Academy, says it’s important for children from underprivileged areas to feel excited about the Euros.

His team partners with schools that lack access to proper football equipment due to financial restraints.

He said: “It’s an opportunity to create a legacy that will always live with kids. It’s such a massive thing for Scotland to be opening the Euros and it’s important that every kid has an opportunity to take part.

“We understand, through our work with schools, the challenges that some of the kids and families are faced with, particularly just now in the socio-economic challenges, so we think it’s important that we do everything we can to support them.”

As well as handing out footballs, On The Ball Academy are running free training sessions with school kids.

It aims to raise £15,000 for its Euro Legacy project, but has only raised £9,000 so far. On Friday June 14, the team will be hosting a football festival for kids in Toryglen.

Pupils at St Paul's Primary School say they are excited to cheer on Scotland in the Euros

“Football is a universal language. It’s about creating an environment that kids can benefit from no matter what their background, no matter what the circumstances are,” Ryan said.

Pupils at St Paul’s Primary School were first in line for new footballs. Aiden, a Primary 7 pupil, said he’s “absolutely ecstatic about the Euros’ and can’t wait to cheer on his country. 

“Scotland are going to score 23 goals across the tournament.”

Orla, another pupil, says she loves learning about football from Ryan and hopes to play for Scotland one day. 

She said: “I really like football because it’s a team sport and you get confident when you get cheered on.

“I’m very enthusiastic and it’s so fun. I really love scoring goals because then I can celebrate with my team.”

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