Stornoway Rugby Football Club juniors are dressed for training in all weathers in branded club kit thanks to a donation of £3,000 from our community wind farm charity.
The Point and Sandwick Trust grant means the club have been able to provide weatherproof training tops to junior club members free of charge, saving families the expense and furthering a sense of team spirit and club pride among the youngsters taking part.
The club have been able to buy 85 tops which can be used for training or for casual wear, such as when teams are travelling to the mainland for league games. Some of the youngsters also wear them warming up before league games.
Iain GG Campbell, Stornoway Rugby Football Club Coach Development Manager, said the club was incredibly grateful for the donation – as it had been hoping to buy such tops for a few years but had not previously had the money.
The tops, which are made of technical fabric and have a quarter zip, proudly bear the logos of Stornoway Rugby Football Club and Point and Sandwick Trust as sponsors.
The Point and Sandwick Trust money comes from the profits from our Beinn Ghrideag wind farm – which is wholly owned by the community, with all profits from its commercial operation being returned to the community for investment in good causes.
At the rugby club, than 60 tops have already been given out to club members between primary five and the age of 18, as well as to the main coaches who work with the juniors.
The tops are weatherproof – meaning none of the children will be shivering or overheating on the pitch as a result of wearing unsuitable clothing.
The donation has also boosted inclusion because all the young members received a top free of charge – meaning none are left out because his or her family cannot afford to buy one.
Iain said: “The tops are weatherproof and hard-wearing. They can wear them for training and it will keep them relatively warm. That’s the main reason for getting them, particularly for the primary-aged children. They’d turn up for training afternoons in the middle of winter and be wearing their school sweatshirts or a football top or even a t-shirt and be shivering away. Or even the other way, they’d wear a big parka to keep them warm and that’s totally impractical for training.”
The tops, he said, had been an instant hit with the youngsters.
“They love them. They’re totally appropriate for training. They’re warm and they keep the weather off and they love the branding. I asked a parent if her son liked his top and she said, ‘I can’t get it off him! He’s wearing it all the time…’”
Giving the tops for free – they come as part of the annual £25 membership – is part of a drive to be as inclusive as possible at Stornoway Rugby Football Club.
Iain said: “We try to keep costs down as low as possible to the parents and the guys involved. We don’t charge for training and we do undercut ourselves, although we get a lot of support from Scottish Rugby for our travel.”
Iain estimated the travel costs for three teams to take part in league games each year – the senior team and the under-14s and under-16s – was between £18,000 and £20,000. And now, of course, the club also has a women’s team, formed 16 months ago and already making a big splash, having won three of their first four games.
He gave an example of how the club tries to absorb costs rather than passing them on to families. “We had 39 kids and five adults in Caithness at the weekend. That probably cost £2,700 but again we’d try and keep the costs down. I would have only taken £20 a head off the kids. We want to make it as easy as possible for as many of the youngsters as possible.
“We don’t want it to be a burden on anybody – we just want to have them play rugby. We want them all to be able to take part if they want to. There shouldn’t be any barriers.
“As far as the tops are concerned, we are delighted with them, and the kids are as well.”
Point and Sandwick Trust chair Norman Mackenzie and board member Sonja Macleod joined Iain GG and some of the youngsters for a photocall at a recent training session (picture by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos), where the tops were being put to good use.
Chair Norman Mackenzie said: “We are proud to support Stornoway Rugby Club with their effort to involve the new generation in their sport.
“Rugby on the island is growing as a sport and the new tops will serve to develop a feeling of belonging and the team spirit among the young players. And perhaps, when they are seen wearing them, other non-rugby playing friends may be encouraged to get involved.
“It’s really about identity for the kids themselves and their sense of identity with their team.”
Iain GG said there had been a definite increase in the club numbers lately, with the addition of the women’s team. “There’s about 25 to 30 of them and that itself is a new number. Everything else is staying quite stable.”
The women’s team had, he added, also brought a new dimension to the rugby club – and instantly made it more inclusive.
“It’s pretty good and they are so keen. It changed the dynamic of the club as well. It was basically an all-male environment, apart from some younger girls at times. But now they are around the club, bringing their young kids to the club…
“We just need a club house now…”