Monday, May 01, 2006

And your point is? No but! Yeah but!

Glenurquhart 11 Ardnamurchan 0

With a score line like this there is only so much one can say. However to be fair to everyone
concerned ,a reorganisation of the Glen team at half time led to the second half score being
Glen 2 Ardnamurchan 0. That being the case -and heartening too-I feel a rant coming on.
A beautiful sunny day and some confidence building goal scoring for the Glen youngsters-5 for Ben Hosie. What about the rest? Two for Neil Mackintosh, two for Gary Smith, one for Andrew Macdonald and one for Ross MacAulay. Ben carried the ball a great deal , ran it in on goal and the Ardnamurchan lads who in the defence, apart from the keeper ,seemed a bunch of youngsters themselves very fairly tried to chase him down , take the ball off him on the run and otherwise attempt to stop him within the rules. My worry for Ben is that shinty is a hitting game and backs who have come up through the shinty ranks in a more traditional way will have a swing across him. That way broken fingers lie. Shinty is not hockey -and thank goodness for that too. Just long as he is aware that this will happen. Perhaps in his “Boys Own Shinty Player’s Diary” he will note the following “Memo to self“ - must move the ball on more quickly. Unfair -perhaps , a little harsh- perhaps. Good advice-definitely.
As I walked around the field I spoke with the Ardnamurchan head honcho. He was aware that they have to keep at it .“The best thing will be when we get all the youngsters coming through”. He is absolutely right. There was a lad -in Primary 6 hitting a shinty ball against the front of the pavilion.
“Do you play shinty in school”, I asked him.
“We used to with Mr Munro- we can’t now but I go to the training twice a week.” he said
He was a good hitter of the ball for his age. I could not see any Drum Primary 6s hitting about with a ball. I saw two or three kicking a football and another couple of Drum’s glorious youth messing about with a basket ball and yet another two in full “homey gear” of baseball cap and hoodie sitting at the side of the pavilion. They were smoking something: I can only guess at what and when I tidied up the side of the pavilion I found an empty bottle of vodka lying there. They were obviously not classy enough for Buckfast. So much for the youth of a village with a shinty team
And the moral of the story is?
It’s good for kids to get involved in sport. But merely providing the opportunity for sport will not always convince them to take part: the adults in the community have to set the agenda and engage the kids in the sport and support them from Primary school onwards. Problem with Drum is that too many people don’t see that. The population has changed so much they don’t see how much playing shinty can help their kids in personal development and also be part of a wider Highland community joined by an indigenous sport with a heritage and history behind it.
American Football in Inverness? I want to spew. Hockey? Introduced by Royal Academy toffs in Inverness at the start of the 20th century because they thought it was the “proper” sport to play. .Basketball -I want to be sick again. Rugby- I could go on. All sports are not equal and if we have to give one a leg up it should be shinty. As for the individual sports-let individuals play them but what do they contribute to the wider community good.? Andy Murray and tennis-David Carry and swimming? Good luck to them but like who cares apart from their parents?
Shinty is not an easy game to get skilled at. Chuck a football at a crowd of kids and you get the illusion of a football match right away. Shinty demands a higher level of basic skill before you can make anything of it. Ardnamurchan found this out on Saturday but what lessons should they take out of that experience?
Well keep on going. Rome was not built in a day. The Glen only got going in the late 1940s after being in abeyance for at least four decades and that first Glen team was not up to much. The youngsters that came through were though. Tell the kids to take their clubs to school and knock around. Doubtless the wusses in charge of Primary and Secondary schools are wanting kids to wear helmets when they are having a wee “knock about” Nonsense - kids are not doing much more than hitting the ball about , shooting at goal or whatever. Ardnamurchan Shinty Club should make a fuss so the kids can take the clubs in to school and hit about at break time. Stopping a kid taking his club to school is just like belting them when they spoke Gaelic in the old days. Indeed all over the shinty playing areas teams should be doing that : I would say that only in Tomnacross do the kids play in that natural manner and I would guess that the day Graham Bell packs in some wifie of a new Primary teacher will ban it in case the kids get a knock. Will HC do anything to help? Doubt it.
So Ardnamurchan -Cumaibh a dol e-and the kids will get better. Already there were a fair number who could hit neatly and with time and fitness you will get there. Take control of your schools: get the secondary school PE teach earn the cash and put it in the core curriculum. Don’t let the fearties win and you will find the sport will help you build bridges with other Highland communities and pull your own folks together.
Would football do this? No way. The way Ross County and Inverness Caley approach things-their idea of community involvement is a sham. Stuffed out with public money they only want to cherry pick a few and you will find that having taken away your top two or three players ,they will leave you without enough to form any sort of team in any sort of sport. Last Friday Glen under 14s lost three players who were at professional football training ; when they are 16 these guys will be booted out -you read it here first. Never forget and hard though it is to believe given how much we all love the game ,but in the way it is funded and feather bedded in the Highlands football is the enemy. Don’t even think about accommodating it.
Second moral of the story-get on to the Camanachd to put in place some professional coaches to go round the Primary schools in your area. They should be doing it in our area too.
Now then , I do feel much better after that.

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