The compulsory wearing of helmets with faceguards for all shinty players moved a step closer, but opt-outs still remain following the Camanachd Association’s annual general meeting in Fort William.
The pre-agm position was that all players must wear a compliant helmet with faceguard during games and training, other than where any player aged over-21 years opts out by signing a liability waiver.
Camanachd Association chief executive officer Derek Keir made an impassioned plea for tighter restrictions for the benefit of all on safety grounds, saying this was the fourth year that the association had attempted to introduce the unilateral wearing of helmets with faceguards, and he urged member clubs and associations to show leadership.
There was some progress as, with a voting strength of 43, it was agreed to raise the waiver eligibility to now only include players aged over 25.
However, two other motions put forward by the game’s governing body failed to gather the required 75% support.
These were that helmets and faceguards are made mandatory for all players from the 2024 season or alternatively, that helmets are made mandatory from 2024 with liability waivers permissible for faceguards only.
In his three-year tenure as Camanachd Association president, Steven MacKenzie has used all his skills to successfully steer the sport through a tumultuous three-year period, which included a full recovery following the Covid shutdown, before passing the baton over to president-elect Burton Morrison.
MacKenzie said: “There have been many challenges, but this has been a fantastic experience.
“I’d like to pay tribute to my predecessors Keith Loades, Jim Barr and Archie Robertson and I’m certain shinty is in good hands with our new president Burton Morrison.
“There is a sports psychology book written by James Kerr called “Legacy” and it examines the success of the All Blacks at rugby union.
“One of their central tenets is to ‘leave the jersey in a better place than you found it’ and I have strived to live up to that adage.”
New president Burton Morrison, a retired chartered civil engineer, possesses a wealth of shinty experience which will serve him well in his new role.
A native of Drumnadrochit, Burton Morrison previously played for Aberdeen University and Glasgow Mid Argyll and was also as Scottish international.
He said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be elected president.
“I’m especially humbled when I look at the list of my predecessors and if I can contribute a fraction of their achievements, I’ll have done well.
“It is volunteers and the clubs they represent who will lead shinty through whatever changes lie ahead.
“I see the Camanachd Association’s role as providing a support structure for the clubs which brings maximum benefits for the efforts of their members.”
There were also four new directors elected with Alan Clark, Willie MacDonald, Kevin Thain and Graeme Macdiarmid all overwhelmingly voted in. Daniel Polumbo and Kirsty Deans both came to the end of their tenure on the board.
Former Highland Councillor Alister MacKinnon has been co-opted onto the Board with a future Finance role likely.
Substitutes proposals fails to gain support
In other business, three different proposals from Kingussie, Dunoon Camanachd and Oban Camanachd to increase the number of substitutes that can take the field all failed to gather the required support.
Moves to amend the outer pitch dimensions also fell short of the required approval level.
Meanwhile, finance director Daniel Polumbo reported encouraging financial figures for 2022, including a record £618,000 income.
The figures were much better than forecast 12 months earlier with sponsorship returning to pre-pandemic levels and this contributed towards a £22,000 annual surplus which boosts Camanachd Association reserves to a healthy £240,000.
Projected 2023 figures estimate a £7,000 surplus and although adult subscriptions were increased by £5 to £30, membership still made up less than 10% of the Camanachd Association’s overall income which is less than other sports.