Scotland the brave, and really friendly

Oct. 16, 2020 @ 9:45 UTC

Scottish Touch has used the past six months to focus on building on the growing success of the game with youth development a core priority for the well-oiled association.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian decided in AD122 to build a wall in northern England to protect the Roman Empire from the troublesome people living in what is now Scotland. If the Scottish Touch Association (STA) had existed at that time Hadrian may not have bothered building his wall. The Touch fraternity in Scotland are far from being ferocious and fearsome. In truth, they are really a very welcoming and bonnie community. 

To illustrate the bonhomie of the Scots, take their close friendship with neighbours and fierce sporting rivals England, a subject addressed recently by Scotland Mixed Open player Mikey Short when he spoke to Adam Collins from the Federation of International Touch (FIT), for an episode of Set of Six, along with Scotland Womens Open player Hannah Chrisp.” The England teams we have played have had some of our best friends, people who have attended our weddings and birthday parties,” said Mikey. 

Pathway out of pandemic

The Scotland-England rivalry is on hold of course due to COVID-19. Play was suspended in Scotland in March as the Pandemic took hold. There have been at least 2500 COVID-19 deaths in Scotland to date. The government of Scotland has implemented a ‘Route Map’ to get the country of 5.4 million people through and out of the crisis. This involved the introduction of different phases of lockdown. Currently Phase 3 is in operation. For Touch in Scotland this has meant a relaxation of measures which has allowed training to restart, albeit with restrictions on the number of people who can train together, and the duration of training. 

Internal review

The Scottish Touch Association have used the Pandemic hiatus to conduct a review into the sport. Mikey Short said, “Scottish Touch have used the lockdown as an opportunity to assess what we are good at and what we can improve, such as finding ways to integrate the youth and kids.” Scottish Touch have decided to concentrate on making Touch “A family friendly, youth focused sport rather than on focusing on elite levels”, according to Mikey.

Focus on youth

Scotland have done well at the elite level with its Mixed Open team winning the bronze medal at the World Cup in Malaysia 2019. This success has been achieved despite Scotland having a small player base. “The total player pool is only about 2,000 which is tiny when you compare to Australia which has 800,000 or England who are now somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000,” according to Hannah Chrisp. Given this fact, a renewed push into youth development will be a great way to grow player numbers. The Scottish touch association already have a Youth Academy in operation providing a program for young people to develop in all areas of Touch from technical skills to physical conditioning. The STA are also encouraging Touch clubs to apply to the Youth Legacy Fund, which are government cash grants, to help clubs develop youth sections and to create opportunities for young people to play Touch. Gaining access for Touch into the High school Physical Education curriculum is another key goal for Scottish touch. 

Forward looking

The Scottish Touch Association is at the leading edge of Touch development in emerging nations. It has an excellent website If you are looking to play Touch in Scotland this website provides all the information you need. It tells you about the clubs in the four major Touch regions (North East Scotland, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Central Scotland) and when and where you can play, along with everything else you could possibly need to know about the sport in Scotland. 

Exciting next phase

Scottish Touch will emerge from the pandemic in a strong position. It has achieved World Cup success and has a core group of outstanding, experienced people such as Hannah Chrisp and Mikey Short who still have much to contribute. Combine this with the renewed focus on youth development and a well organised Touch Association, and the sky is the limit for Scottish Touch.