Delivering coaching to record numbers

Record numbers of children are attending summer programmes organised by Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s Community Trust, including those who are benefiting from free courses and meals to combat the cost of living pressures.

Community Development Manager, Craig Masterton, is thrilled at the response to the camps organised by his team in Inverness as well as in Aviemore, Cromarty, Farr, Fort William, Nairn, Tain and Thurso.

Over the summer holidays, the team:

  • welcomed 1,317 participants at 17 venues;
  • provided 160 hours of football coaching free of charge and
  • provided 1,460 free meals and
  • gained a 99.2 per cent enjoyment rate from those who responded to an end-of-course survey, with parents believing the activities were reasonably priced; the coaches engaged well with their child and courses were accessible to find and attend.

Craig said: “It truly has been a fantastic summer programme for us in 2023.  Not only blowing previous participant records out of the water but hearing from families about the incredibly positive impact our camps have on all who take part.  The comments we receive highlight the positive impacts the courses have on children in motivating them and helping them meet new friends in a safe environment.  It shows the vital role we play, using football to engage across the community.”

Craig said the Trust was able to provide free coaching and free meals in targeted communities thanks to funding during the cost of living crisis from the Bank of Scotland Foundation as well as the Scottish Football Association’s Cash Back for Communities Fund and Scottish Gas.

He added: “To be able to provide an opportunity to so many deserving young children, whose exposure to activity and sport due to barriers of cost and logistics would have been limited, is a key pillar of our work in the community.  The positive feedback further encourages us to expand our work in the future.”

As well as providing summer programmes across the Highlands, the Community Development Team organised a camp between 9 am and 3 pm during the recent three-day closure of schools due to strike action, with full attendances of 112 each day.  This was run through donations only as a thank you to parents who had supported the summer camps and in recognition of the help needed by parents and guardians in coping with the disruption of the closures.    

Over the past year, the team has also made a total of 47 school visits to deliver education through football. 

They also deliver weekly para football coaching sessions and have recently attracted funding to resume sending a squad to take part in monthly para events in Stirling.

Also popular are the weekly walking football sessions held at the Highland Rugby Club all weather pitch at the Bught Park and the growingly popular monthly football memories meetings at the Caledonian Stadium on the last Friday of each month.

The Trust recently won the SFA’s Regional Grass Routes Award for the best “Football For All” project, which is sponsored by McDonalds and the Daily Mail, for the walking football project. 

ICT Community Trust is the bridge between Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club and the community, being a charitable trust run by a board of directors and a team of Community Development coaches.

A major project being undertaken by the Trust, in conjunction with the football club, is the creation of a Community Hub on a 10-acre site at Inverness Royal Academy Playing Fields, where the team will be based to deliver coaching to all sections of the community.