womens-national-shinty-team

Nam biodh tu air innse rium bho chionn 40 bliadhna nuair a bha mi anns an oilthigh ann an Glaschu gum biodh 20 buidheann camanachd ann a-nis le sgiobaidhean boireannach, 31 sgioba uile gu lèir agus còig lìogaichean, cha ghabhainn a chreid.

Bho thoiseach a’ gheama is tron 19mh linn deug chaidh geamaichean iomain a chluich le fir na baile, is am measg sgìrean, ach gu h-eachdraidheil bha am spòrs air a chluich le fir a-mhàin. Bha Rèisimeidean Gàidhealach gan cluich thar na dhà chogaidhean mòra cuideachd.

view from above of a park and river

Sealladh bhon adhair air Pàirce Bellfield is na h-Eileanan Abhainn Nis air thogail ann an 1928

Ann an 2017, tha a’ chiad bhoireannach Wendy Chamberlain bho Fiobha ach le ceanglaichean do Chaol Bhòid a’ suidhe na ball de Bhòrd-stiùiridh Comman na Camanachd, is tha a-nis suas gu 500 boireannaich a’ cluich a’ gheama. ’S ann aig sealbh a tha brath dè bha Màiri Mhòr nan Òran air a ràdh, no a sheinn, mun chùis còrr is ceud bliadhna air ais.

Chan e a-mhàin gu bheil àireamhan a’ sìor fhàs, ach tha far a bheil sinn a’ faicinn na sgiobaidhean seo inntinneach cuideachd. Feadhainn dhiù leithid Abairdothair, a tha air tighinn a-mach à sgìrean far nach eil dualchas fada sam bith a bhoineas do shaoghal na camanachd.  Cuid eile a tha stèidhichte air sgìrean “àbhaisteach” na camanachd, leithid Bhàidneach, agus na Sgitheanaich cuideachd, a tha an impis saoghal na camanachd measg bhoireanaich a chur fon casan.

Cha mhòr nach eil e do-chreidsinneach mar a tha na boireannaich air tighinn air adhart. Sgilean nas fheàrr, deisealachadh nas fheàrr, structuran nas fheàrrr agus cinnt aca far a bheil iad a’ seasamh sa ghèam anns an fharsaingeachd, agus far a bheil iad ag iarraidh a bhith.

Tha e a-nis àbhaisteach gu leòr gum bi sgioba bhoireannach aig buidheann camanachd agus gum bi iad a’ cluich agus a’ gabhail gnothach ris a h-uile càil a tha a’ dol gu h-ionadail agus gu nàiseanta. Chionn a-nis tha slighe bhon sgoil gu geamaichean eadar-nàiseanta an aghaidh Èireann aca air am beulaibh.

Chan eil co-ionnanachd ann buileach fhathast, ach tha leithid oilthighean a’ cuideachadh le sin, a’ tarraing bhoireannaich chun ghèaim agus a’ toirt cothrom dhaibh eòlas a chur air an spòrs agus piseach a thoirt air a chluich aca. Agus an uair a thilleas iad dhachaigh, tha iad ann an suidheachadh mòran nas treasa a dhol an sàs ann an cùisean.

Tha mi den bheachd gu bheil seo na cùise airson subhachais, is tha mi an dòchas le leasachadh geama nam boireannach, bidh iomain air a ghlèidheadh mar phàirt de dhualchas na h-Alba.

blonde woman smiles at camera as she holds a sports trophy

Katy Smith, sgiobair na h-Alba, sàr-chluicheadair a’ ghèaim.

Nuair a thig e gu bhith a’ cumail ceann a’ mhaide ri Èireann, tha pìos math againn ri dhol fhathast. `S e fìrinn na cùise gu bheil boireannaich na h-Éireann an dràsta cho fada air thoiseach oirnn gum feum sinn a bhith reusanta agus tuigseach mu nas urrainn dhuinn a choileanadh aig an dearbh àm.  Tha iad air a bhith a’ cluich an sin bho chionn bhliadhnaichean; tha àireamhan  agus stòras aca nach gabh buinnig an seo a’ chiad ghreis.  Ach chan eil sin idir ag ràdh nach bu chòir dhuinn a bhith a’ feuchainn orra agus gam fàilteachadh a dh’Alba nuair a tha gèamaichean eadar-nàiseanta nam fear gan cluich.

Cha chreid mi fhèin gu bheil gèam nam ban sa chumantas deiseil airson a chur air teilebhisean fhathast. Freagarrach gu leòr airson aithris is cunntasan-goirid `s dòcha, ach thig an latha, tha mi an dùil, far am faic sinn làn gheam ga chraoladh.

Ma tha strìth aig leithid ball-coise faighinn a-staigh air na meadhanan, tha fhios nach e gnothach sìmplidh sam bith a th’ann do chamanachd nam ban iad fhèin a dhìgeadh a-staigh air na duilleagan cùil.  Ach beag air bheag, chì sinn an tuilleadh adhartais agus piseach a’ tighinn air a’ ghèam am measg bhoireannaich na dùthcha.

Ma bu toil leibh barrachd a chluinntinn bho Hugh Dan, gheibh sibh air twitter e @hughdansport – no ’s urrainn sibh a’ dol a-steach is a’ tadhail air aig Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba far a bheil e an còmhnaidh mar sgrìobhadair spòrsa.

A bheil sgeulachd agaibh fhèin ri innse a tha a’ gabhail subhachais ann an eachdraidh no dualchas? Cuiribh fios thugainn air Twitter le #’Heritageday17, no faigh a-mach ciamar a thèid sibh an sàs ann an Latha Mothachaidh air ar Dualchas le tool-kit ùr.

Tha sinn an-dràsta a’ sireadh bheachdan air mar a tha sinn a’ glèidheadh is a’ brosnachadh na Gàidhlig tro Phlana Ghàidhlig ùr airson 2018 – 2023. Cuiribh beachdan a-steach tro an suirbhidh againn.  

A new paradigm in Shinty

If you had told me 40 years ago when I was at university that there would soon be 20 Shinty clubs with women’s teams I would never have believed you. From its earliest days through the late 1800s, Shinty matches involved the male populations of one parish, village or district playing another, and historically the game was dominated by men. Highland Regiments played during both World Wars.

In 2017, the Camanachd Association has its first female board member Wendy Chamberlain who grew up in Fife but has family connections with Kyles of Bute, and up to 500 women are now playing the game. , fortune knows what Màiri Mhòr nan Òran would’ve said, or sung about the matter more than a hundred years ago.

view from above of a park and river

Aerial view of Bellfield Park shinty ground and Ness Islands, taken in 1928

It’s not only the increase of numbers in the women’s game that is interesting, but also where we see these teams emerge. Some are to be found in the ‘usual’ places, such as Badenoch and Skye, but we’re starting to see teams from regions where there is no strong, or apparently traditional association between place and shinty – such as Aberdour in Fife.

The rate of improvement in the women’s game is almost unbelievable. Their skill, preparation, game structure, and confidence in their positioning has come on leaps and bounds. It’s now common for a shinty club to have a women’s team, and for that team to be involved in all events, both regional and national. I would say the path from school to international games against Ireland is partly responsible for this.

We haven’t quite reached equal parity yet, but there are many universities helping in this regard. They are encouraging women to acquaint themselves with the game, and to develop their skills so that when they return home, they are in a far stronger position to get involved.

I think that’s something worth celebrating, and hope that with the rise of the women’s game, shinty will continue to be an important part of Scottish heritage.

blonde woman smiles at camera as she holds a sports trophy

Katy Smith, Scottish National Team, Woman of the match

When it comes to giving Ireland a run for its money, we have a wee bit to go yet. The truth of the matter is that the women’s game in Ireland is streets ahead of our own, and with that comes an understanding and a reasonable assumption of what we can presently achieve. They have been playing for years; they have numbers and resources that won’t be beaten first time around. However, that’s not to say that we can’t have a go, and to welcome them to Scotland when the men’s international games are taking place.

I wouldn’t say that the women’s game is ready for television just yet. It’s suitable for small reporting and write ups, but the day will come I wager that we will see full games broadcast.

If women’s football has a struggle getting into the mainstream media, it’s no mean task for women’s shinty to get themselves onto the back pages of the newspapers. But little by little, we will see more progress being realised in women’s shinty in Scotland.

Do you have a story to share celebrating history or heritage? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter with #HeritageDay17, or find out how to get involved in Heritage Awareness Day with our toolkit.

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If you’d like to hear more from Hugh Dan MacLennan you can find him on Twitter @hughdansport – or you can drop in and visit him at the National Library of Scotland where he is the first ever Sports Writer in Residence.

 


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From time to time we have guest posts from partners, visitors and friends of Historic Environment Scotland.