A GLASGOW MSP wants to honour Nelson Mandela with a sports scholarship award in his name.

Patricia Ferguson, Maryhill and Springburn, Labour MSP has suggested the Scottish Government should fund an award to help young people from poorer backgrounds.

It would combine academic learning with sports coaching to remember Mandela, who was a boxer in his youth and who also used the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa to foster positive race relations.

After his release, Mandela said his biggest regret was that he never became world heavyweight champion.

At the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg, in a gesture of reconciliation, he wore the green and gold Springboks rugby jersey, a symbol of white oppression during the apartheid years.

One of his famous quotes was "sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does."

Ms Ferguson said the creation of such a scholarship fund would be fitting way for Scotland to honour the former South African President.

She said: "In the weeks since his passing, we have all being celebrating Nelson Mandela's legacy and this could be one way of using his life as a way to inspire the next generation.

"As we know, Nelson Mandela was a keen boxer in his youth and was someone who truly understood the value of sport and the importance of the symbolism that often accompanies it.

"We could build on his legacy by establishing in his name a scholarship fund to help the sporting or academic achievement of young people from low-income backgrounds or people who have shown a real commitment to using sport to help to break down barriers.

"Scottish Labour would be happy to work with the Scottish Government to ensure this is a success and that future generations continue to be inspired by the hope that Nelson Mandela brought to millions."

Sport has played a significant role in the rebuilding of South Africa. The country hosted the football World cup in 2010, 15 years after the rugby tournament and slowly, more non-whites began to be selected for the Springboks.

A South African team will be taking part in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year, the sixth games since the country was re-admitted to the Commonwealth after the end of apartheid.

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk