A new project has been launched to secure the future production of camans – the wooden sticks used to play shinty.

Currently made by a small number of independent carpenters, caman production has been identified as a critically endangered craft.

The Camanachd Association is set to work with Inverness College UHI to address the issue, implementing modern business processes to develop a manufacturers’ cooperative. The five-month initiative has received funding from the Scottish Government’s innovation voucher scheme which encourages collaborations between organisations, businesses and academia.

Business and management lecturer David Jack is leading the project at Inverness College UHI. He explains: “Shinty is one of Scotland’s most ancient and historically significant sports and camans are a vital part of the game. As caman making is a critically endangered craft, the Camanachd Association are looking for innovative ways to make the manufacturing process more sustainable. Our main goal will be to support caman makers to work together so they can share expertise, ideas and realise the benefits of greater cooperation.”

The caman project is part of a wider collaboration between the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Camanachd Association. The two organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to explore opportunities around volunteering, work experience, education and training, coaching and community awareness.

Speaking about the agreement, Derek Keir, Chief Executive Officer of the Camanachd Association, said: “This project is a fantastic example of our partnership plans with the University of the Highlands and Islands and highlights the benefits of partnership working to grow the support network for shinty and our respective communities. Shinty is the cornerstone of many Highland communities and the caman making support project is just one way that our communities are going to be able to reap the benefits of our new academic partnership with the university. Moving forward we also hope to progress work to include further exchange of expertise as well as a greater connection to teacher training in the Highlands and Islands.”

Dr Iain Morrison, University of the Highlands and Islands’ Dean of Students, added: “The caman project is a great example of the synergies that exist in this new relationship. We share similar geography, socio-cultural roots and a strong desire to support local communities across the Highlands and Islands. Our partnership is inherent in the success of our communities and our communities are fundamental to our strategy and operation, so we are proud to be working closely with Scotland’s most iconic team sport.”