The Camanachd Association are committed to playing our part and supporting our partners at UK Anti Doping in their work to generate a nationwide commitment to clean sport. We see our primary role and that of a shinty clubs in this area is to deliver opportunities to take part in shinty as positive diversionary activities through competitions and events whilst supporting our member clubs improving the quality, safety and accessibility of positive structured activities. Furthermore, we play an active role through education and raising awareness of best practice and support services because we recognise the central role that shinty plays across its communities.

Over the past few months we have delivered educational awareness to up and coming shinty players at the summer shinty camp and on Wednesday 21st September a special awareness raising session will be held for club leaders.

We have provided a brief summary of the drug landscape in Scotland as well as an evidenced based description of the positive impact that sport can have on a persons wellbeing;

“Reports show lower levels of drug use in rural, compared with urban areas. There is, however, evidence of a narrowing of the gap between rural and urban areas in terms of drug use.” (Effective Interventions Unit: 2004). Scotland has now experienced a “seventh consecutive year of increasing drug-related deaths” (Public Health Scotland: 2021) and therefore drug use, and indeed abuse, has risen across the country. This includes, but is not limited to, rural communities and as such we are keen to set out some best practice for clubs at a meeting in September, as well as signposting to relevant resources below.

We take pride in the fact that shinty is a healthy alternative to drug and alcohol use. Matthew Kwan et al (2014) found that participation in sport plays an important and positive role in preventing drug and alcohol use amongst young people. Their results indicated that for 82% of cases there is a significant positive relationship between sport participation and decreased illicit drug use. This is furthered by (Nadra E Lisha et al: 2010) which reviewed 34 peer reviewed quantitative data based-studies and found that participation in sport is related to lower levels of both cigarette smoking and illegal drug use.

Camanachd Association Chief Executive Derek Keir says “There are a range of expert resources available to clubs across our communities that provide alcohol and drug support services and we encourage our clubs to get in touch with those organisations for further support. We see our role in shinty as delivering positive opportunities to take part in our sport and at the same time raise awareness to our network of the support services that are available. Increasing quality family time, positive interactions with peer groups, positive leisure time and education can play a key role in reducing alcohol and other drugs use in any area.

If you are concerned about anyone in your area please refer to the following link to find support in your area.

Derek Keir continued “Part of our role as a governing body is to connect our members to information and resources that can support their health and wellbeing. With resources in our sport so limited we have to be reasonably practical and proportionate with how we deploy the resources we have and we do that by working to enhance the support network in shinty and that is why we are bringing expert resource to our members to help support across a range of issues including mental and emotional wellbeing, child protection and continued health and safety with upcoming proposals for rule changes with helmets. Ultimately we are all bound to a code of conduct within the game and there is a deep commitment across the sport to continue being a positive influence on our community.

The Camanachd Association work closely with our member clubs through our development team and develop best practice via our club accreditation scheme. This includes club governance and planning, child protection, risk management and clear roles and responsibilities to help implement the codes of conduct that guide our ways of working. We know we can’t do any of this alone and that these developments require a collective approach from the whole community.  

The Camanachd Association are already working closely with a number of partners in health and wellbeing including the Scottish Association for Mental Health, Mikeysline, NHS Highland, Scottish Sports Chaplaincy etc. to provide vital pathways for support and connection for our communities in relation to mental and emotional wellbeing. With more exciting announcements to come in relation to this area it is important to ensure that we continue to do what we can with issues affecting our communities.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, please consult this  document which signposts to confidential services which can support you.