Members of the public will be given the chance to share their thoughts on how the future of Shetland fooball should be shaped at an open meeting on Thursday.
Shetland Football Association has enlisted the help of the SIC’s sport and leisure department to help launch a thorough consultation geared towards examining all aspects of how the sport might be developed.
Following a meeting last month, a steering group was set up with members including MSP Tavish Scott and Shetland Farm Dairies manager Gerry Byers, who was involved in the game in Northern Ireland.
Shetland Football Association vice-president Irvine Burgess said the group had generated many fresh ideas already, but fundamental to any Shetland-wide plan was giving everyone who had an interest in football in the isles the opportunity to contribute.
A public forum will take place at Clickimin at 7.45pm on Thursday, immediately following the association’s monthly meeting.
It will be led by Graeme Sutherland, north regional development manager at the Scottish Football Association. He will present the SFA’s vision for “Scotland 2020”.
Steering group members will then share their progress to date, before a second discussion focused on “creating a vision” for the future and “development priorities” for the game in the isles.
Mr Burgess said: “It is clear from our discussions recently that despite the challenges ahead, this is indeed an exciting time for Shetland football and a chance to make a real difference.
“We are urging people to turn out and contribute to the discussions and help us create a strong plan for Shetland football going forward.
“Everyone, whether it is a parent of a primary school youth player, a player, a coach, ex-player or manager, we value your opinion and if you are unable to attend the forum on Thursday we will have further opportunities to share their thoughts with us over the coming months.”
One key issue, according to Mr Scott, is the need for efforts to build a new artificial football surface In Lerwick to be stepped up. It is possible that could be tied into the project to build a new Anderson High School next to Clickimin.
“If you look at the Faroes, Norway, Iceland and other parts of the world with long, wet winters, their football undoubtedly is strengthened by having full-sized training facilities to play indoor, 11-a-side games on,” Mr Scott said.
Among other things, the steering group is also looking at how various football associations within Shetland might work more closely together.
“Football has been the lifeblood of Shetland sport for many years,” Mr Scott told this newspaper. “As a parent, I’m committed to the game and I was hearing lots of worrying stories about the senior game in Shetland, and particularly our competitiveness when it came to the inter county.”
While in Shetland, Mr Sutherland will be running short courses: from 6pm-7.30pm on Thursday at Scalloway School’s games hall, a “creating technical players” course will be staged. An adult SFA club coach level 1 course will be offered at Clickimin North from 6pm-9pm on Friday, and then from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.
* Some places are still available on the courses. For more information visit: www.shetland.gov.uk/sport_and_