Stornoway Rugby Football Club juniors are dressed for training in all weathers in branded club kit thanks to a donation of £3,000 from community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.
The 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 – which owns the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm near Stornoway, with all profits going to good causes in the community – as sponsors.
More than 60 have already been given out, to club members between primary five and the age of 18. The two main coaches also have one and others who help out regularly will also receive one.
The tops are weatherproof – meaning none of the children should 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.
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."
Point and Sandwick Trust chair Norman Mackenzie and board member Sonja Macleod joined Iain GG and some of the youngsters at a recent training session, to see the tops being put to good use. Norman 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.”
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.
“We just need a club house now…”
Pictured: "Looking the part: Some of the juniors from Stornoway Ruby Football Club with Iain GG Campbell – all in their new weatherproof tops – with Norman Mackenzie and Sonja Macleod from Point and Sandwick Trust. Photograph by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos