Support for Islands’ gifted athletes

The scheme is to help gifted athletes from the Outer Hebrides, such as footballer Matthew Wright.
The scheme is to help gifted athletes from the Outer Hebrides, such as footballer Matthew Wright.

Eight elite athletes from the Outer Hebrides are set to benefit from a scheme designed to support travel costs for island competitors.

Following the recent introduction of the pilot Islands Athlete Travel Award Scheme by sportscotland eight local athletes from across the Islands will receive £1,500 to support their travel and accommodation costs in attending training and competitions.

The overall aim of this scheme is to help gifted athletes from the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland to gain better access to competitive and developmental opportunities available on the mainland.

Applications were received from 22 individuals covering seven different sports, highlighting the demand for increased support.

The overall standard was high, making the selection process appropriately challenging.

The following athletes will receive an award: Gemma Macritchie (Athletics); Scott Maciver (Athletics); Matthew Hanlon (Swimming); Isla Budge (Swimming); Amie Ringstead (Basketball); Rory Mighton (Rugby); Chloe Nicolson (Football) and

Matthew Wright (Football).

Councillor Angus McCormack, Chairman of Education, Sport and Children’s Services, said: “It is excellent to see this innovative scheme up and running and I wish all our young athletes every success in their chosen fields.”

Councillor Charlie Nicolson, the Comhairle’s representative on Lewis and Harris Sports Council, participated in the selection process as an advisor and was impressed by the range and quality of the applications.

He said: “I was impressed by the diligence shown by the panel in assessing the applications and I am looking forward to following the progress of this group of talented athletes over the next 12 months.”

At the time of the launch Scottish Government’s Sports Minister Aileen Campbell and Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland both praised the work and commitment of athletes from the island communities and the partnership working that has gone into developing this additional support.

On the announcement of the successful athletes Stewart Harris said: “At sportscotland we are building a world-class sporting system to give everyone in Scotland the opportunity to take part in sport and this fund was established, in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, to meet the specific needs of aspiring athletes from the island communities.

“It is terrific to see the first athletes from the Western Isles who will benefit from this investment being named, and great to see the range of sports represented.

“Along with the services already delivered by the sportscotland institute of sport locally, athletes from the Western Isles now have a comprehensive package of support to help them achieve their sporting ambitions and we wish them every success for the future.”

As part of their commitment to the scheme Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Sport & Health team will now monitor each athlete’s progress through the coming year, alongside their coaches.