The rise of second homes and depopulation are threatening the sustainability of shinty in one of its key areas, a report has highlighted.
The sport’s governing body the Camanachd Association has made it a top priority to help stem the loss of young people which is hampering recruitment of players and volunteers to the sport.
A working group met recently with representatives from Argyll and Bute to discuss an independent review commissioned to identify challenges facing shinty clubs.
The review said it was acknowledgement that outwith Oban the loss of youngsters and their replacement with non-native, often older people, along with an increase in second homes, is “hammering” the development of youth shinty.
Scottish Government figures show there are nearly 25,000 second homes in Scotland, with 3,131 in Argyll and Bute.
Aarron Duncan-MacLeod, the association’s communications and marketing officer, said while the review highlighted a positive relationship between clubs and the association, however, it was clear there are challenges in recruiting and developing the next generation of players.
“It was clear from the feedback and from membership data that a collective approach must be developed with education, clubs, leisure trusts and associations in order to increase the number of young people taking part in shinty, especially primary and secondary aged children.”
The review suggests the association and politicians could encourage the inclusion of shinty in school curriculums and also use social media to attract more interest among local people and tourists.
Camanachd director, Roddy McCuish added: “This process is about listening to our clubs and agreeing a plan together to overcome the challenges in front of us. Shinty is part of our cultural heritage in Argyll and Bute and it is something we must work hard to protect and grow.”
The association has already launched a School of Shinty in Oban High and other schools are also taking part in a programme where pupils are given training by the Camanachd Association.
The association’s chief executive Derek Keir has also welcomed a proposed new salmon farm in Argyll by long-term sponsor Mowi, expected to support local jobs.
He said: “Mowi’s commitment to further investing in the Argyll and Bute stronghold very much highlights the synergy between our organisations both in geography and in creating opportunities in rural communities.”