A SECOND Shetland footballer is celebrating after being signed up by Inverness Caledonian Thistle at youth level.
Calum Grant, 13, from Scatness, is beginning to see his dream of playing professional football come true after attracting attention of the SPL club with his fine ball control and decisive footwork.
The former player for Ness United and Shetland’s under 14s squad said he was “very honoured” to be signed for Caley Thistle’s under 14s.
Although he had “no idea” he would ever be picked by the club, he said he was determined to put in as much training as possible.
“They train about three times a week, but because of school it’s a bit more difficult for me to get down there,” said Calum, a third year pupil at Sandwick Junior High.
“They’ve asked me to train as much as I can with teams up here, so I still train with Ness United.”
His signing gives Shetlanders a growing presence in the Highland club.
Earlier this year 12-year-old Cameron Gibbs, from Nesting, was also signed up by Caley Thistle after impressing talent scouts as a Shetland under-12 player.
Calum’s mother Shona Allan said she was delighted her son had demonstrated his talent, and added her main interest was helping her son achieve his footballing ambitions.
But she said the expense of regular flights to the Highland capital for training sessions had come as something of a challenge.
“SPL clubs don’t provide any assistance for us. It’s left to the families involved to go up and down to wherever the club is.
“Calum only had his second trial game and they wanted to sign him up at that point. He travels up and down each week at quite a considerable expense.”
The family have been sharing the burden with the Gibbs household, and take turn about to accompany both Cameron and Calum to the weekend training sessions in Inverness.
Mrs Allan thanked local business Ness Engineering for providing financial help to ease the burden of travelling, as well as Home Furnishing of Lerwick owner Ghufar Razaq, who had also made a donation.
New air franchise to the isles Flybe – which happens to be one of Caley Thistle’s sponsors – has also offered a discount for Calum on flights south for training.
“It’s very exciting for Calum. It’s a world away from playing football here,” said his mother.
“He thoroughly enjoyed playing for Ness United. He was player of the year this year, but now he’s not allowed to play for them any longer because he has signed to an SPL club, although he can still train with them.
“It’s a big commitment for boys to take on, but he’s very keen to continue with it.
“It’s every young boy’s dream and when you’re playing on the mainland you’re playing on a bigger stage and there are more opportunities for you.
“Calum is completely football mad and we are very supportive of what he wants to do.
“The number of boys who make it to the top is a very small percentage, but while I recognise that I feel he’s heading in the right direction by getting the opportunity to play for an SPL club.”