West­ern Isles ath­letes re­ceive £1,000

The Oban Times - - News -

THE WEST­ERN Isles Is­land Games As­so­ca­tion ( WIIGA) has re­ceived a £1,000 do­na­tion as ath­letes gear up to travel to Swe­den in June to com­pete in the Is­land Games.

Nor­rie ‘ Tomsh’ MacDon­ald, chair­man of the games as­so­ci­a­tion, was de­lighted to re­ceive the cheque from Point and Sand­wick Trust.

Thank­ing the trust, Mr MacDon­ald said: ‘ We are grate­ful for ev­ery sin­gle do­na­tion we get and £1,000 is a huge amount of money.

‘ It means it re­duces the costs for all our ath­letes. That’s the long and the short of it.

‘A lot of our ath­letes fall into the ‘‘school kid’’ cat­e­gory so re­duc­ing the costs to them is of para­mount im­por­tance be­cause it’s not cheap.’

The games take place ev­ery sec­ond year and go on ro­ta­tion around the 24 is­land mem­bers of the In­ter­na­tional Is­land Games As­so­ci­a­tion.

This year’s host is Got­land in Swe­den and a squad of 75 ath­letes and 15 oth­ers, coaches, man­agers and medics, are go­ing from the West­ern Isles.

A small num­ber of fam­ily mem­bers and sup­port­ers will also be go­ing along to the event, from June 24 to 30. But the costs are high, with the bill for WIIGA com­ing in at be­tween £160,000 and £180,000.

Mr MacDon­ald said: ‘I sit on the fundrais­ing sub­com­mit­tee and I must have writ­ten 100 let­ters to peo­ple over the last month. I’ve writ­ten to ev­ery­body that I can think of. We’d be grate­ful if any­body is out there and will­ing to get on board.

‘ We are grate­ful for ev­ery sin­gle do­na­tion we get. We have man­aged to re­duce the costs to the ath­letes to about £ 600 each, which is still a lot of money, but ev­ery sin­gle bit of spon­sor­ship takes that down.’

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the games is said to have had a huge im­pact on sports per­for­mance in the West­ern Isles.

‘ We’ve taken great strides in the last 10 years,’ said Mr MacDon­ald. ‘ The stan­dards of the is­land sports have in­creased mas­sively. In­stead of go­ing to the main­land to par­tic­i­pate, they are go­ing to the main­land think­ing they can win - con­fi­dent. They’re not scared now, es­pe­cially at the north of Scot­land events.

‘Our whole premise is to make sure that ev­ery sin­gle per­son in the West­ern Isles has ac­cess to sports at the grass­roots level. If the ath­letes are good enough, we take them on board and make sure they get proper ac­cess to proper coach­ing, proper train­ing camps.’

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