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The Camanachd Association held its annual general meeting in the Muthu West End Hotel, Fort William, on Friday November 30.
In his first annual report as president, Keith Loades thanked association staff and directors for their contribution to the sport of shinty, not forgetting the large number of people who give freely of their time to serve on sub committees.
There were thanks for Donald Skinner who retired as chairman of the Behaviour in Sport Committee after many years’ loyal service. He has been replaced by another stalwart, John Mackenzie, who brings with him a vast knowledge of shinty.
Keith, however, said there was regret several unsavoury incidents, hitherto unheard of in the sport, took place and whilst the system deals with the offenders, it would be preferable if clubs would take on greater responsibility and prevent these offences taking place in the first instance to protect the good name of shinty.
The Camanachd Association board was further boosted with the co-option of Lyndsay Bradley and John Finlayson who bring different skills to the management team.
Angus MacVicar was thanked for his six years on the board and there was praise for the game’s referees and goal judges.
Keith praised Competitions and Events Manager Astie Cameron for ensuring all matches were completed well within the playing season. Only 53 matches were postponed as a result of unplayable pitches, a substantial reduction on previous years, however, bereavements and requests for re-arranged dates led to additional call-offs. Clubs were thanked for their greater understanding of the need for adjustment.
There was also praise for the youth work undertaken by the development team but Keith Loades stressed the need for even more volunteers at club and school level in certain areas to assist with the rise in junior shinty.
Keith’s report also stated that the men’s and women’s senior shinty/ hurling matches were played on the main Bught Park pitch on the same day for the first time and there was acknowledgement of the excellent work which had taken place with the Memories Programme.
There was positive news on the financial front as the meeting reflected on the 2017 accounts which showed a £42,346 increase in turnover and a surplus of £32,084, increasing the association’s reserves to £108,046 at December 31 2017.
Having fulfilled its obligations and met its targets, the association did not suffer any reduction in their £182,000 funding from Sportscotland, its largest single contributor. Overall grant funding increased by £8,892 despite a reduction in local authority-based grants.
This, coupled with good management of expenditure and generous sponsorship, has enabled the association to predict a £10,000 surplus for year ending 2018 which will also go towards increasing reserves.
The association’s main financial target for 2017 was to attract commercial sponsors and the addition of Tulloch Homes as title sponsor for the Camanachd Cup for four years contributed to an overall increase in sponsorship income.
Anderson, Shaw & Gilbert came in as 2017 MacTavish Cup Final sponsors, replacing RBS which did not continue with its sponsorship.
Membership of the Camanachd Association Business Club increased to include five local businesses.
Marine Harvest, which agreed a further three-year sponsorship of shinty, were again the game’s principal sponsors.
Total expenditure in 2017 was £553,967, a decrease of £41,688 on the previous year. Huge reductions were made under competitions, where savings across the programme reduced costs by £38,237.
Membership numbers increased to 3,354 in 2017, with a subsequent increase in associated income.
There were 655 senior fixtures scheduled in 2018 compared to 689 the previous year. However, 29 fixtures were unfulfilled as a result of team raising difficulties, down from 39, with 92 fixtures postponed and rescheduled compared to 125 in 2017.
Of the 92 fixtures, 53 were as a result of unplayable fields and eight due to bereavement, whilst a further 26 were rescheduled at the request of both clubs in compliance with the byelaws.
During 2018, 12 fixtures were reversed or transferred to an alternative venue to ensure the game took place on the scheduled date. This compares with nine in the previous year, whilst 14 fixtures were played midweek.
The number of primary school children playing shinty is encouraging with good numbers of teams taking part in tournaments including the North Shinty World Cup and the 2018 MacKay Cup.
The introduction of the first School of Shinty at Kingussie High School is the start of a project to increase the profile and participation in secondary schools.
Talks have already been held with another two schools – one each in the North and South.
A Schools Camanachd Forum was held in Fort William with 14 representatives of schools and clubs in attendance.
The association continues to work with a range of partners to support the recruitment and development of coaches at all levels throughout the sport with all activity based around the Coaching Action Plan.
The recruitment, retention and development of match officials at senior level remains critical and is identified as a priority concern in the strategic plans for shinty. Although some progress has been made, Keith Loades said the situation remains fragile and requires the proactive support of all clubs and associations to help increase and develop the number of match officials regularly active within the game.
A total of 39 referees were allocated to senior games during 2018, up from 34 in 2017. However, only 27 referees were available on a regular basis, similar to 2017.
Two new referees were introduced at senior level during 2018. The grading of referees during the 2018 season was as follows: 11 Grade One, 14 Grade Two and 14 Grade Three.
Four area workshops for match officials and assessors were delivered during 2018.
Sample video clips are available on the CA YouTube channels to encourage understanding of the rules and the decision-making challenges referees encounter. These include: kicks, players on the ground, one handed play, free-hits, pushing, fouls and dangerous play. Further clips are in production.
The Camanachd Association Facilities Strategy was updated in 2018 in partnership with sportscotland.
Improvements included a new pitch at Kinlochshiel; a new Lovat clubhouse; better drainage at Kyles’ pitch, a new second pitch at Newtonmore and a new stand and team rooms at Kingussie.
The development of a new junior pitch at Fort William and a new pitch at Glenorchy are being looked at. A Bught Park user group is also being considered to look at updating and developing the area.
It is a key part of a club’s duty of care to have an appropriately trained First Aider with each team and a fully stocked first aid kit. A range of local first aid courses delivered by local authorities and other partners are regularly promoted to members.
The Camanachd Association was one of the core sport governing bodies in Scotland to sign up to the Scottish Government’s Sport Concussion Guidelines 2015 and Heartstart Camanachd, in association with Lucky2Bhere, are continuing their quest to see every shinty club in Scotland in possession of a defibrillator.
There have been consultations with a number of communication experts during the year with a view to enhancing shinty’s profile and all the great work taking place in clubs. Positive media coverage of shinty is a key platform for promotion of the sport, reaching large audiences and engaging current and new supporters.
BBC Scotland and BBC Alba continued their excellent television coverage, whilst Radio nan Gàidheal, Cuillin FM, Oban FM and Moray Firth Radio did likewise on the air waves.
The association also acknowledged that shinty benefits from excellent national and local printed media reporting from newspapers including The Oban Times which is a reflection of the important role shinty plays in the life of communities across Scotland.
Norman Strachan’s team also helped raise the game’s profile, filming a number of matches throughout the year for the association’s YouTube channel.
The Camanachd Association also launched a new website last year. This has been its principal communication tool which continues to reach thousands of members and supporters throughout the year, providing a wide range of relevant information and resources.
Social network channels also provide an important communication platform, with more than 7570 ‘likes’ on Facebook and 4,966 ‘followers’ on Twitter.
Both these channels continue to grow in popularity and the association is making increasing use of each channel to keep members informed on the sport’s latest developments. With the help of a network of club volunteers, both of these channels continue to provide live goal updates from matches around the country every Saturday throughout the season.
There was a proposal from the Camanachd Referees Association to limit the number of times a ball can be thrown in the air from a hit-in to one attempt at senior level and three times at U17 level to give players an incentive to improve this core skill and to maintain the speed of play. However, it was a counter proposal from Newtonmore allowing three attempts at each throw-in which won favour. The Camanachd Referees Association’s proposal to introduce a sanction for players who do not comply with wearing a chin strap on their helmet to improve safety didn’t win enough support, with members feeling the existing rules were sufficient.
The Camanachd Association Board will consider the suggested amendment to referees’ fees.
The proposal is the match fee for televised cup finals, which have increased since BBC ALBA’s involvement, be increased to £100, which may help the recruitment of referees and act as an incentive for them to reach the highest level.
Following the annual genral meeting, there were discussions regarding submissions made by Lovat and Glengarry shinty clubs.
Lovat suggested that players’ disciplinary points should all return to zero at the end of the season unless there were severe circumstances when the disciplinary committee would have the ability to enforce that a percentage of a player’s disciplinary points continue over to the following season. However this did not win favour with members.
Glengarry proposed that the Balliemore Cup be limited to first teams playing in the National Division, the Sutherland Cup be opened up to single teams playing in South and North Division 1, that the Glasgow Celtic Society Cup and MacTavish Cup competitions be restricted to the associated South or North clubs playing in the Premiership or National Division and that the Bullough and Strathdearn Cup competitions be opened up to single teams in the associated South or North Division 2 leagues.
The rational for this request from Glengarry – a single team club – is that their team require a cup to compete in at their standard to enable continued development at club level.
The club competes well with the teams in Divisions 1 and 2 and would like the opportunity to compete at the same level in cup competitions.
There was sympathy for Glengarry’s position, although counter-arguments were also heard. The matter will be discussed further by the Camanachd Association board. There was also discussion surrounding whether the age limit for the compulsory wearing of helmets, which is currently up to U17 level, should be increased year-on-year.
Inveraray’s player of the year awards were handed out at the club’s annual awards dinner at the Inveraray Inn on Saturday November 17.
Lewis MacNicol had a good season in the Inveraray first team and collected the player of the year prize.
The second team player of the year trophy went to David MacPherson, an award he first won as an emerging youngster in 1994.
Fraser Watt was the first team’s top scorer, whilst John MacKenzie topped the scoring charts for the Inveraray seconds.
Eilidh Cameron won the Jock MacCallum Trophy for the most promising youngster.
Lochaber AGM switch
Lochaber have brought their annual general meeting forward to Friday December 7.
The venue remains the Bridge Café, Spean Bridge, with a 6.30pm start.
Marine Harvest South Division 2 side Glenorchy hold their annual general meeting in Dalmally Community Centre on Friday December 14, starting at 7pm. Everyone welcome.
Kinlochshiel shinty/ hurling clash
Kinlochshiel welcome their Irish friends Castletown to Kirkton for a shinty/hurling challenge match on Saturday December 8. Throw-up is at 1pm.
Newtonmore Player of the Year awards
Newtonmore announced their player of the year awards at the club’s annual dinner dance at the Balavil on Friday November 30.
It was a particularly successful season for the Newtonmore first and second teams.
The senior side lifted the Tulloch Homes Camanachd Cup, the Marine Harvest Premiership and the cottages.com MacTavish Cup, whilst the second team won Marine Harvest North Division 1, the Sutherland Cup and the Strathdearn Cup.
Newtonmore were also big winners at the Marine Harvest annual awards, where they were named club of the year and boss Paul John MacKintosh took the manager of the year accolade.
It was little surprise that another winner, national player of the year Rory Kennedy, was confirmed as Newtonmore’s first team player of the year. The second team player of the year award went to Owen Fraser who has been a powerhouse in midfield since switching from his previous goalkeeping position.
Newtonmore’s second team goalie Calum Grover, who was also named North U17 keeper, collected the U17 player of the year prize.
Col Glen prizes
Col Glen confirmed their player of the year winners at their annual dinner and awards night in Colintraive Hall on Saturday December 1.
Hamish Harrison was named Col Glen’s player of the year, with Conor Kennedy the club’s top goal scorer.
Finan Kennedy was young player of the year and Scott Symons took the most improved player accolade.
Macaulay Cup draw
The 2019 Artemis Macaulay Cup draw will be made live on Oban FM’s Sports Show on Saturday December 8 at 6pm.