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Youth shinty expected to return soon in Highlands

By Gavin Musgrove

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Youth shinty will be making a comeback soon, the sport's governing body has said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement last week allowed a return to the game for youngsters although not for senior shinty.

Could youth shinty be making a comeback this season in Kingussie and the rest of the strath? The final decision will lie with local clubs and of course parents.
Could youth shinty be making a comeback this season in Kingussie and the rest of the strath? The final decision will lie with local clubs and of course parents.

The Camanachd Association said planning for the youth game has been intensified as they look to support clubs in their readiness to host a return to youth shinty in the near future.

All shinty was postponed for the foreseeable future in mid-March due to Covid-19.

And the association has also polled its club membership to see if there is still an appetite for the game to return this season if and when allowed, with localised tournaments being the preference.

Derek Keir, Camanachd Association chief, said: “It is so exciting to get the go ahead for a return to children's and youth shinty after such a long period of absence.

"We know from consultations with our clubs that this is welcome news for many communities right throughout Scotland.

"The benefits that we all feel from exercise both for our physical and mental health are clear to see and after a tumultuous 2020 this will be all

the more welcome.

"We, as always, have been working in partnership with our clubs, associations and sportscotland to ensure that when a return to shinty is possible that our clubs are as informed with as much support as we are able to offer.

"This survey has made it clear that clubs want to get back to playing shinty when it is safe to do so and when they have the protocols and systems in place to mitigate risks in line with government recommendations.

"We cannot wait for the next steps to be implemented and clubs are rightly working through the guidance at a pace that is appropriate to their own capacity and resources.

"We look forward to its return in the near future.”

The governing body said its poll found from the 26 clubs who responded there was an overwhelming desire to return to shinty when the conditions allowed it.

When asked: “If government guidance allows contact sports in 2020 and it is safe to return - would your club wish to take part in a localised mini league competition?”

Just under 70 per cent of clubs answered yes, with the other 30 per cent answering maybe meaning no clubs were opposed to the plan.

When asked: “If a limited time was available, prior to the end of 2020, to return to play shinty what type of activity should be prioritised.”

A total of 96 per cent of clubs answered that local area tournaments/games should be prioritised.

An association spokesman said: "Based on this and after much consideration the Camanachd Association is at present preparing for the return of youth shinty training, with a desire to organise localised tournaments when it is safe to do so and in line with Scottish Government guidance and the readiness of our clubs.

"Safety is, as always, paramount and at the heart of every decision we make and as such each club has been requested to complete a readiness checklist along with a risk assessment for the return of the sport."

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