Shinty’s first-ever floodlit street league has proved a pioneering success in Fort William.
Former internationalist Willie Macdonald, who became the club’s first development officer six months ago, is now taking a class a week in curriculum time in Inverlochy Primary School and Lundavra Primary.
Macdonald said: “This could be the way ahead for other clubs to follow.
“We’re keen to maximise the potential of having the game’s first floodlit pitch, at Frasers Field, adjoining An Aird.
“The lights have enabled a street league for Primaries 1 to 3, 4 to 5 and 6 to 7, which attracted 60 youngsters on our first night and over 100 a night after the first few sessions. We mix the kids on the night to level up the quality of teams.
“We’ve now stopped because it is too cold for primary children, but we were attracting up to 100 parents and other spectators at the matches, so it’s hugely successful.
“It’s shown that the new field drains well and has stood up well to the intensive action.”
Youth Fixtures update: Games still on.
Saturday 4th December.
MacQuisten U17 Cup Final: Oban Camanachd v Glasgow Mid Argyll at Mossfield Stadium, Oban. 12 noon Throw-up.
MacTavish U17 Cup Final: Beauly v Kingussie at Braeview Park, Beauly. 1.00pm Throw-up.
— Shinty (@camanachd) December 2, 2021
He added: “It’s better for the youngsters to learn on a proper pitch rather than an artificial one. We’ve finished for the winter but this floodlit league will be open to everyone, so it could eventually benefit clubs like Kilmallie, Lochaber and Ballachulish as well.”
Macdonald, whose post is supported by sportscotland funding, explained that combining floodlit action with sessions in primary schools is a major step forward for Fort William and the sport.
He said: “I’m enjoying working with kids at Inverlochy and Lundavra.
“These curriculum classes are our club’s future. For instance, six Lundavra 12-year-olds will join our under-14 squad next year, a key pipeline from a school that only opened in 2015.
“Shinty is now on the curriculum at Lochaber High School, thanks to the help of Yasmin Clark, head of PE, whose husband is Fort legend James Clark, so it’s been a hectic few months of big strides taken.
“Add the fact that our under-14s and under-17s will be able to train and play all winter on the floodlit pitch and you see the massive advantage it can be for the Fort William club going forward.
“We’re now able to welcome young boys and girls to the world of shinty and provide a clear pathway from primary school classes through to the senior team – a great milestone.”