PRIMARY pupils in trainers and t shirts are causing a delighted racket in the gym hall as they rattle around throwing basketballs back and forth.

But this is no ordinary PE session.

These children are from schools linked to Govan High and they are taking part in a basketball project that brings together primary and secondary pupils with university students.

An ambitious scheme, currently in its early stages, hopes to create a School of Basketball at the secondary school that will widen the horizons of the youngsters taking part.

It will also, it is planned, give primary aged children the chance to learn the sport while also giving members of Glasgow University's men's and women's basketball teams the chance to coach and mentor the children and young people.

Ruth Dolan has been playing basketball for seven years and is in third year at the university.

The 20-year-old sees the Glasgow University Basketball Social Outreach Programme as a way to be a role model for younger girls, the type of role model she lacked.

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"I feel like Glasgow Uni is such a prestigious institution and I feel that's wasted on a lot of people," said Ruth, who coaches pupils from Craigton Primary as part of the programme.

"If we're part of this big institution that's important within the local community then we should be going out to contribute to that community.

"Besides being active, I really see the benefits of basketball - I became a lot more confident after I started playing basketball.

"And I think it's important especially for girls. There's such a huge drop out in girls playing sport.

"I never had older girls pushing me but now I think it's good to be one of those older girls who's encouraging girls to continue in sport."

Primary schools have sent along their teams to Glasgow Club Bellahouston to take part in a tournament and, while there is a real mix of boys and girls playing, at Govan High the basketball team is all boys.

This is something PE teacher and basketball coach Steven Turner wants to address as part of the School of Basketball.

He hopes to draw 20 pupils each year to the scheme, which will see participants play six hours of basketball a week in school, and have that split into 10 boys and 10 girls.

Steven has a life-long history with basketball, having grown up with the sport as his dad was a player, and having lived in the US where he coached the Washington Bullets - now called the Washington Wizards - which was the team of Michael Jordan.

"I'm hoping the School of Basketball will give the pupils aspirations - to go on to university, to maybe get a scholarship to an American university, to be players or to be coaches," he said.

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"But it's not just about sport, it's the social reasons. It keeps them out of trouble, gets them thinking the right way. And hopefully it will lead to a lifelong association with health and fitness."

Glasgow University's men's and women's basketball teams were established in the 1950s, focused on recreational and competitive playing for students and staff.

Lecturer Dr Georgios Kominis joined the basketball team in 1996 and says that setting up a successful social outreach programme had been a long term goal of the club.

He said: "[The current players] don't know this because they don't have the benefit of my years, but what we are doing now is a seed that different coaches and different heads of the basketball have tried to make grow a lot more than they can know.

"You put the seed and you wait for the sun and for the water to make it grow and flourish - and that hadn't happened until this current band of kids that we have here both at the current men's and women's teams.

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"They have brought all the right ingredients to make the project flourish."

Steven's links to the wider basketball community lead to him hearing about the fact Glasgow University's basketball teams wanted to expand their social outreach programme.

He, as did PE teachers from other high schools, put together a pitch - and the Govan High School of Basketball was the winner.

Georgios said: "Steven wanted to go something good but did not have the resources.

"We wanted to do something good and had the resources. So this was the perfect marriage for us."

Although the scheme is very new, there are already 250 pupils from 10 primary schools taking part with around 16 coaches coming from the Glasgow University teams.

Not all coaches attend Glasgow University. One, Calvin Maclean, is a City of Glasgow College student who coaches the Glasgow Uni men's second team.

Leading the student side of the project is Kieran Dowling, who has been playing basketball for 11 years.

The fourth year psychology student is head of the social outreach programme, juggling that work with his dissertation.

As the 21-year-old is in fourth year, he is preparing to hand his role over at the end of the academic year.

"I've noticed how much basketball can do for me, from increased confidence, discipline and hard work," he said.

"I played at a high level when I was younger, playing for the Scotland teams.

"I really feel like the things I had to put in to get me where I got in basketball translate through my schoolwork in high school and relationships with friends that I've made. It's such an amazing opportunity to be able to improve yourself.

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"Next year I'm not sure where I'll be but I won't be at the university so the plan is to pass it down to someone else.

"I will always definitely want to have some kind of connection to the programme because it has been such a huge part of the last couple of years for me.

"It will be so hard to leave it so I definitely want to support it when I can."

Basketball players from Govan High were invited to Glasgow University over the summer to take part in training sessions there, which included a coaching session with Glasgow Rocks star Gareth Murray.

Georgios added: "Our hope is that we can work together with the schools to get the kids to the point where something different is going to happen in their life because of this.

"I think we all believe that basketball is more than simply throwing a leather ball in the air through a metal hoop.

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"It can be a great platform to get people to develop skills that will be useful in their lives.

"This is just the beginning as far as I can see."