With the 125th anniversary of the formation of the Camanachd Association here today (October 10th 2018) is it not time to raise a glass to our forefathers who had the foresight to recognise the requirement to put in place an organisation which could bring together all interested Clubs in order to set standard rules for the governance of the sport of shinty. The gentlemen who met on that night in Kingussie set out the fundamental rules for the game and although some were changed at the first Annual General Meeting held in Bught House Hotel, Inverness on Friday 21st September 1894 they are to be congratulated for having secured a consensus from the clubs represented. It will be of interest to many that at that time 35 Clubs were notified and invited. Also noteworthy is that membership was set at ten shillings per Club per annum. The fees now charged to Clubs for membership has clearly failed to maintain that level of cost!
The Camanachd Association has had a further twenty seven Presidents since the election of Lord Lovat in 1894. All have witnessed changes and it is my belief that the CA is now a very well managed organisation run on more professional lines but would it surprise the gentlemen who put this whole thing in motion 125 years ago that there are currently only 48 clubs in Scotland.
There is much to look forward to and whilst the next few years will not witness the addition of new Clubs in substantial numbers it must be noted that the membership of the CA is higher than before; substantial growth in the woman's game is encouraging; policies and initiatives being put in place to increase and improve youth participation and development should begin to show results. In addition many clubs are now recognising the benefits of having qualified coaches and joining the ClubMark Accreditation scheme.
An increase in the playing numbers puts pressure on playing fields and so Development staff and Directors are devoting time and energy in order to seek to resolve this problem. I am pleased to be able to report that going forward we do so with a very strong and energetic Management Board and a dedicated CEO and staff. With hard work and the continued goodwill of sponsors and founders the Camanachd Association is well placed to meet the challenges we have set in our strategic plan and beyond.
One thing which would not have been contemplated by these gentlemen would have been the rise in the inclusion of women into our sport. I wonder what the reaction would have been 125 years ago if someone had suggested that two international matches would take place in 2018 at the Bught Park, Inverness and that the ladies of Scotland would be sharing a stage with their senior men. The only question I ask myself is why has it taken so long?