Letter from Edinburgh

The Olympic Torch is coming to Shetland next June and will be paraded through Lerwick.

Details are scant, but Seb Coe was on television this week saying the Olympic organisers were taking the torch to 95 per cent of the UK population.

It is welcome that Shetland is included. Too often when a government or organisation such as mobile phone companies say they cover 95 per cent of the population, it is no surprise when we are the five per cent omitted!

Zero out of 10, however, for BBC Scotland who in reporting the Olympic Torch route this week, managed to put Shetland in the Moray Firth on a map.

The BBC bosses in Glasgow should watch out. When Shetland negotiates the islands’ con­stitu­tional future with Oslo, mainland Scotland will be in a different box altogether. This doesn’t even begin the argument about oil because our map of Shetland’s geographical waters will include North Sea and Atlantic oil too. But that is for another day.

The back pages of The Shetland Times are the most cheery part of the paper to read.

We have a range of swimmers and athletes comp­eting at a very high level and some now must be genuine prospects for national and internal recognition.

The considerable investment that Shetland has made in the athletics track at Clickimin and the swim­ming pools around the isles is paying off. The element that makes the real difference to me is the investment in coaching.

The forthcoming Shetland Sports Awards will again demon­strate that many extraordinary islanders give up huge amounts of their own time to help, cajole and push the next generation of hockey, football or badminton players.

But Shetland’s indigenous coaching team across all sporting disciplines has been helped by supporting people to attend national training and coaching courses and by bring nationally recognised coaches to Shetland That’s got to be the right thing to do as having built Clickimin and the satellite centres, it would be a step backwards to not utilise their potential in giving every Shetland youngster the opportunity to try sport and if they like it, develop their talent.

That was part of the drive behind the very successful Shetland Sports Week back in September.

So if coaching is the theme of Shetland’s awards next week I can only admire Sir Alex Ferguson. Manchester United are not my team but his record of 25 years in football’s top flight is utterly extraordinary in building team after team who win trophies. That is painful to write as a Liverpool supporter.

Tavish Scott MSP


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