Western Isles athletes receive £1,000
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.’