SAINTS have teamed up with Virgin Media to provide a virtual football academy, with a live lesson set to be streamed into classrooms next week.

The academy will provide learning resources for teachers to support pupils in getting back to physical education, after research from BBC Newsround showed 57 per cent of youngsters said they had been doing less exercise since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

A live training session will be beamed into classrooms on Wednesday, April 28, led by first-team boss and captain Ralph Hasenhuttl and James Ward-Prowse, while the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters, Theo Walcott and Saints Women's star Shelly Provan are also set to be involved, with some of the Saints academy coaches.

The virtual lesson will be hosted by broadcasters Rachel Stringer and Joel Beya, with Virgin Media also providing 800 free Saints shirts to schools in Hampshire.

"I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity for kids to get back outside and get active," Saints defender Walker-Peters told the Daily Echo.

"With the current situation, they haven’t been able to do so, so I think it’s great that Virgin Media and Southampton have teamed together to provide this for the kids.

"I think I’m actually going to be involved in it, demonstrating a few of the drills for kids to be able to watch, which should be some good fun.

Discussing the stat that children are getting less exercise now than before the pandemic, Walker-Peters said: "As a kid I was never at home! I was always outside playing football with my mates.

"So I do feel for the kids of this time and how their outdoor fun has been limited. But unfortunately that’s what they’ve got to deal with.

"What Virgin Media and Southampton have done is a good way to help get kids active again.

"It will be good fun. It’s a bit of a change to my schedule!

"But it’s nice to do different things and nice to do things for people."

Asked if this counts as his first steps into coaching, the 24-year-old replied: "No, I’m too young to be thinking about that!"

Reflecting on his own school days, the former Tottenham Hotspur ace said: "I loved PE, but I also loved English. More so at school.

"My dad tries to get me to read books, but I’m more into my gaming at the moment, which frustrates him! But I’m sure I’ll get back into reading books some day."

Looking back at last year's first period of national lockdown, Walker-Peters recalled: "I was able to learn a lot about myself from it. We’re so used to routine and going into football and all the drills are there and set for you.

"But at home, I had to improvise. I had to motivate myself to get up and go and run by myself around the area where I was living.

"I shocked myself. I really stuck to it, worked really hard and stayed fit. It was tough, but quite a good learning curve."

The Virgin Media Football Academy is a series of lesson plans, training videos and a special live-streamed lesson on 28th April with Southampton FC to get schoolchildren active. For more information, visit Virgin Media's academy information page here.