A Highland high school has been unveiled as Scotland’s first School of Shinty – and talks are already under way to create more.
Kingussie High School will be the new home of the new venture to boost numbers playing the traditional sport – launched on the 125th anniversary of the Camanachd Association.
The joint initiative between the high school and the association will begin with a 10 week block of shinty and then, in year two, it will be offered continuously throughout the year as part of an elective.
Shinty’s governing body hopes the new school is just the first step and is already in talks to replicate the programme at other secondary schools in the Highlands.
Kingussie’s acting head Ian Adamson said: “The programme will allow youngsters to develop their shinty skills and form pathways to local junior teams and eventually for some the first teams of Kingussie and Newtonmore.”
Mr Adamson underlined that academic achievement was an essential component of the programme.
He said: “I recently visited another school outside of Highland that has a well-established ‘school of sports’ and the engagement, attendance and attainment of the pupils involved has progressed significantly since it started.”
The shinty school is expected to provide an array of fresh talent for two of the best-known shinty teams – Kingussie and Newtonmore.
President of Kingussie Camanachd Club, Russell Jones, said he was “absolutely delighted” at the move but “that shinty has not been given its relevance and its prominence in a shinty playing area over the last 20 years at least is a bit sad”.
He said: “This is a shinty playing area, the two biggest shinty clubs in the sport are within a three mile radius of this school – this school should be doing shinty.
“I am delighted they are biting the bullet, that there is going to be a visible presence of shinty on the curriculum and hopefully for the sake of the sport it is a template for all other high schools in shinty playing areas.”
That is also in the plans for the CEO of the Camanachd Association, Derek Keir, who said that talks to bring the programme to other schools are already under way.
Mr Keir said: “We are in discussions with a number of other schools at the moment to explore what opportunities exist and we are open to talking to any schools that are interested – we encourage them to get in touch.
“Something we are trying to connect in the Camanachd Association is working with education to identify more opportunities where schools can connect with shinty because it is relevant across the Highlands, it is relevant in Argyll & Bute, and it is relevant to Scotland because it is an indigenous sport.”