Elite athletes from the Outer Hebrides are set to benefit from a scheme designed to support travel costs in the islands.
The pilot Islands Athlete Travel Award Scheme from sportscotland will support up to 24 high-performing athletes from across the Islands to attend training and competitions. The aim of this scheme is to help the elite athletes of the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland to gain better access to competitive and developmental opportunities available on the mainland.
Up to eight individuals could benefit in the Western Isles with £1,500 available per person this year.
The introduction of the scheme was recently announced by Scottish Government’s Sports Minister Aileen Campbell. The scheme is now available for applications in the Outer Hebrides.
Awards will be allocated through an application process, with athletes required to evidence how the grant will improve their performance, provide them access to quality training opportunities and improve their sports or club environment.
sportscotland has allocated each of the three local authorities £10k, with the Councils then required to top this up with £2k of their own funding plus the equivalent of £3k of management and administrative time.
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland, said: "At sportscotland we are building a world-class sporting system to give everyone in Scotland the opportunity to take part in sport and physical activity at every level. But that is not something we can achieve alone and this new scheme is a terrific example of where partnership working can deliver real results.
Our partners in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney and Shetland Councils have shown great commitment to the athletes from their island communities, and, by combining our resources, we have been able to give those athletes the support they need to deliver on the world stage."
Councillor Angus McCormack, Chairman of the Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee said: "We recognise that our high performing athletes and their families face many challenges due to the high costs of training and competing on the mainland. We do not want our location to hinder their progress.
We have worked alongside the other Island local authorities and our colleagues at sportscotland towards setting up the Athlete Travel Award Scheme and are grateful for this additional support, adding to the fantastic support provided by our local Sports Councils.
I have admired the achievements of our talented young athletes from a range of sports over many years and this new scheme will provide our current talent with some additional support towards helping them get to the highest level.
Our participation at the NatWest International Island Games since 2005 has provided our athletes with a significant target to aim for and our successes have shown what can be achieved, helped in part by collaborative working and the friendly rivalry with our Island partners."
The scheme opens this month and following an application and selection process, athletes will be identified for support by each local authority. To find out more about the scheme contact Karen Pickard at the Lewis Sports Centre on 01851 822787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday 26th March.