A SCHEME has been launched to turn school pupils into sports ambassadors, to spread the word among other youngsters.

Workshops are being held at the University of Teesside, at Middlesbrough, for 14 to 16-year-olds, led by professional athletes.

Organisers hope the teenagers will be encouraged and able to organise sporting events at primary schools.

The youngsters will be supported by the university's sports science students.

The project is at the centre of a Youth Sport Trust's Step into Sports conference being held on Teesside.

The first conference was held at the university on Thursday, with Olympic and Commonwealth medallist and former world record-holding swimmer Nick Gillingham, while orienteer Heather Munro will be working with the children tomorrow.

Mr Gillingham said: "This is about teaching the young adults the skills to work across the whole range of sports and develop their own skills. As well as competitors, we need volunteers to help with all kinds of sporting events.

"Without volunteers, sport in the UK would stop. For the 2012 Olympics, 70,000 volunteers will be needed just to help the games operate. And that doesn't include the people who help the athletes during their training to get there."

Martin Pout, senior lecturer in sport and exercise, said: "Teesside is one of three universities to host two events, with the other 50 universities holding only one. This is a great sign of support for our students and our facilities.

"Anything that gets kids into sport has got to be applauded, and I think training secondary school kids to help encourage primary school kids is brilliant."