A lesson in international sports leadership from Canada

By Grant Jarvie 

University of Edinburgh and Toronto 

At a time when international leadership in sport is called for Canada has just made a collective gesture on behalf of the whole world through sport, writes Grant Jarvie.

Over the weekend of March 22nd Team Canada alerted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it would not be participating in any Olympics beginning in July. By March 23rd Dick Pound, Canadian IOC member, stated that the Olympics would be postponed by one year because of coronavirus and by March 24th  in a joint statement released by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics had been postponed.

A decision which undoubtedly leaves questions about: cash flow to Olympic sports federations; sponsors contracts that expire as of December 31st; when will the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2012 be; what will the advertisers do in the new 17-day hole in the summer programming; tickets and hospitality and what of all the promotional spending that the 66 local Japanese, 14 global and 19 US sponsors know have to figure out?

The Olympics remain the only forum where the world gets to compete on a multi sport basis; it has stimulated government’s investment in women’s and para sports; it contributes significantly to the development of sports around the world, especially around the poorest countries that share in the redistribution of television money – US$ 509 million from 2017-2020.

It has never been postponed, with each of the stakeholders avoiding the right decision while trying to figure out the safest, least reputationally damaging solution for the IOC and Japan, but it was the Canadians who forced the change. In the words of Globe and Mail reporter Cathal Kelly Canada “didn’t just tip the first domino but they set the domino’s up” and the others followed suit.

The British and Olympic Committee (BOA) and UK Sport followed several National Olympic Committee’s requesting a postponement. Norway, Brazil and Slovenia had pressed the IOC to postpone. The United States governing bodies of swimming and track and field pressed their Olympic committee’s to press for a delay, but it was Canada who were first over the fence to say we will not be sending athletes if the games start on July 24th.

One month earlier in February 2020 it was another Canadian, and Olympian former Bruce Kidd who called for the IOC to be on the right side of history and rule out sex testing at the Tokyo Olympics. He went on “to empower unaccountable sports bodies, advised by self-appointed physicians, to exclude some women on the basis of their personal perceptions of womanhood is both wrong-headed and unfair”.

In 2014 IOC President Bach responded to Russia’s persecution of LGBTQ people during the winter Olympic and Paralympic Games by revising the Olympic Charter to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In 2016 when the IAAF was preparing its policy against Caster Semenya, the IOC announced that there would be no gender testing prior to the Rio Olympic Games and such an action argues Kidd should be announced for Tokyo to put the IOC on the right side of history.

It was the same Canadian who as Chair of the Commonwealth Advisory Board on Sport advocated successfully for sport to have much more of a development role in supporting grass roots sports NGO’s such as Magic Bus in India, Mathare Youth Sports Association in Kenya and Go Sisters Go in Zambia.

A role that helped to place sport at the forefront of the Commonwealth’s aspirations to help enhance human development and support agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals and attempt to make the world a better place.

Anyone who reads the early pages of the Olympic Charter is reminded that the Olympics first and foremost are a movement that respects and enables the right to sport and “places sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”

While athlete opinion is understandably mixed about the decision to postpone, the actions of the Canadians have perhaps helped to uphold some of the ideals of the Olympic charter and have delivered the correct humanitarian response to coronavirus pandemic.

Canada like Scotland is not a big player at the Olympic table. Canada like Scotland punches over its global weight in terms of the sports it claims to have invented. Scottish athletes and clubs have not been alone in leading the local and national response to the health crisis we are facing but for all of us Canadian sport has led us, once again, to a collective humanitarian intervention and the right decision.

Canada has also demonstrated that sport can actually lead on real global agenda’s and there are clear lessons here for both Scotland and the Olympic movement.

Grant Jarvie

Professor and Director with the Academy of Sport at the University of Edinburgh.

25 March 2020

Why we need quantitative sports history

By 

Professor Wray Vamplew
University of Edinburgh

Individuals are important in sport but sports history should be more concerned with the collective and the countable. The biography of golfer Harry Vardon, the Tiger Woods of his day, contributes to the understanding of an early champion golfer troubled by tuberculosis and marital difficulties. Although interesting, it is more useful as sports history if it is contextualised into asking if tuberculosis was an industrial disease of professional golfers and whether the marriage problems emanated from the time away from home making a living as an elite professional designing courses and playing in championships. These are statistical issues: how many other golfers had tuberculosis and how did this relate to the general population; how much time did top professional golfers spend on the road? Qualitative history such as biographies at best supply examples with which to illustrate an argument and at worst provide the personal experience of one person without noting its typicality

Unfortunately in a host of academic areas there has been a move away from quantification to the qualitative in both epistemology and methods, a shift from which sports history has not been immune. An obvious reason for not using a quantitative approach is that some topics are not suited or relevant to a statistical slant. Numbers are the essence of that history which looks at collective experiences such as sports crowds or groups of professional players and counting might be seen as less necessary by those more concerned with the experience of the individual. However, argument by individual example is no real substitute for the use of hard, quantified data which enables us to determine what is typical and what is unusual, the whole basis of social science theory.

Another reason for the growth of qualitative history, however, is that counting often involves substantial hard work, something which too many sports historians shy away from. They have preferred the easier (which is not the same as saying ‘easy’) qualitative methodologies. Quantification has a high research time/word output ratio: counting can be a laborious, time-consuming, often ‘tedious’ process with hours of work resulting in just one table or even a mere sentence. In the same way that academe tends to distinguish between the hard sciences (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the soft ones (social sciences), perhaps it is time to distinguish between the hard (quantitative) and soft (qualitative) sports history.

It could be a lack of confidence in their ability to manipulate numbers in a meaningful way that deters some sports historians from venturing into the quantitative jungle. The author can accept that some sports historians will have difficulty in coping with higher order statistical operations, but not all quantified work needs to be complicated. Even those who believe that four out of three sports historians have trouble with math should, simply by the nature of studying sport, have at least a passing acquaintance with basic statistics. Knowing whether the mean, mode or median is the most appropriate calculation to make should not be beyond most of us. Even basic percentages can improve our understanding. Descriptive statistics, suitably organised, can add to our understanding and allow a great deal of informationto be given in summary form. Moreover statistical displays can have instant, eye-catching impact.

To turn away from the use of statistics is to reject the opportunity to produce papers that provide more specific answers than gut feeling. A recent study of jockeys in the United States, undertaken by creating a data base of 4,794 jockeys, was able to show that in 1880 African-American riders were over-represented in the jockey profession (22%) relative to the proportion they occupied in the general population (13%) and that the decline in African-American jockeys over time was less precipitous than had been conventionally assumed. By use of quantitative techniques they were able to offer more precision than those historians relying on intuition, emotion and non-statistical evidence. It was meticulous counting of the occupations of 500 players from the first two decades of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland using census returns, land valuations, trade directories and other sources that destroyed the foundation myth that it comprised mainly landless labourers.

There are two situations where the use of numbers is almost inevitable. Any financial information must involve figures. The other is that the establishment of growth or decline in any variable requires figures to justify the direction of change.

Yet numbers are important more generally. Measurement can allow historians to be more precise in their answers and figures can add strength to an argument by providing a statistical basis for historical assertions. Statistics can be used descriptively to set the historical scene and show the (relative) importance of a particular incident, event or theme being studied; for, example, studying the environmental impact of golf will be enhanced by a preliminary discussion in statistical terms of the number of golfers, the growth rate in participation, and the consequent rise in demand for golf facilities. Researchers should consider comparative work and look at other sports, other venues, other countries so that [they] can put [their] own case study into context and distinguish what is specific and unique from what is general and measurement is crucial for comparisons. In the author’s own work counting enabled the relative dangers of flat and jump racing to be compared via rates of injury. Associated with comparison is the issue of perspective, of putting something to do with sport in the context of non-sporting matters so that its relative importance can be gauged. It is impossible to demonstrate the economic significance of a sporting event without resort to figures. The cost of staging the 2004 summer Olympics was in the region of $20-$40 billion, equal to about one twentieth of one per cent of annual global GDP and substantially less than the $2,000 billion required to bail out US banks in 2009.

Academic sports historians appreciate statistics when they appear as lists of their citations on Google Scholar and seem capable of understanding what is meant by an ‘h-index’ and an ‘i10-index’. So why don’t they take their quantitative sense into their actual research. In modern sport, analysts would not consider the impact of a policy to increase grassroots participation or the influence of a new manager on a team’s performance without resort to measurement. So it should be when looking at the past. Moreover if non-quantitative sports historians fail to educate themselves in basic statistical techniques or methodology, they run the risk of disenfranchising themselves from a corpus of knowledge within the subject.

 

Sport, disability and gender: Voices from sub-saharan african girls and women

By Susanna Neumann

“Girls and women with disabilities should not be ignored because sport is their right!” (Interviewee 6, 01.08.2019)

“Sport is the key; it is the main key of everything! Sport brings us together, no matter the disability, no matter the gender, no matter the status, no matter where you come from. Sport will always unite us together!” (Interviewee 9, 08.08.2019)

Introduction
People with disabilities (PWD) are considered as the largest, poorest and most marginalised minority. More than a billion people – corresponding to 15% of the world’s population – are living with some form of disability, out of which half are women and girls (WHO & World Bank, 2011).

Girls and women with disabilities (GWWD) face many barriers and obstacles in their struggle for (basic) human rights including equality in and access to sports. They are subject to multiple instances of discrimination, on the grounds of both gender and disability (UNDESA, 2016).

While a substantive body of work has focused upon gender and disability discrimination in and through sport in high income countries and wealthy contexts there is less evidence about GWWD’s sport experiences in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). 80% of the world’s disabled people live in LMICs (UNDESA, 2019; Connell, 2011; Grech & Soldatic, 2014; Karr, 2011; WHO, 2005).

The Study
The small qualitative study informing the research in this blog aimed to add to a limited body of knowledge of the sport experiences of GWWD in SSA, and Uganda in particular. Voice was given to nine (former) female athletes with different physical disabilities, as well as related stakeholders from Uganda (four interviewees), Kenya, Benin, Nigeria, the Netherlands and the United States of America. In total, six women and three men were interviewed.

Barriers and Challenges
Those interviewed gave voice to a number of barriers and challenges faced by girls and women’s experiences of sport within this context. These were as follows:

I. Cultural Barriers and Negative Perceptions
Cultural factors and negative attitudes were identified as the greatest barriers facing PWDs’ to participation in sport. All interviewees indicated that GWWD in SSA experience multiple instances of discrimination based on gender and disability due to “a deeply rooted patriarchal ideology”.

“That particular cultural factor is a big problem. Because when you have not accepted that this category of human beings has a lot to contribute to the society, you don’t see anything good that can come from that section of the population.” (Interviewee 3, 24.07.2019)

“Perception is what we need to change to overcome those challenges. When it comes to women and girls, oh it is terrible!” (Interviewee 2, 03.07.2019)

“The complexity of culture and tribal, religion – all these elements make it hard for women.” (Interviewee 5, 01.08.2019)

II. Lack of Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
A lack of self-esteem and self-confidence among GWWD, which prevents them from participating in sport and physical activity was also highlighted.

““Oh a women with disability, how are you going for sitting volleyball, how are you going to run?” It is even: “In our culture it is not allowed, how are you going to compete with men?” Things like that. So for the women, they completely think it’s impossible. They make them loose their self-esteem and once they lose that, it gets really, really difficult.”
(Interviewee 2, 03.07.2019)

“Me, personally, I used to play rugby and because of the outcomes of, you know, having muscles I stopped. Just like that. Because I did not want to have that body”
(Interviewee 6, 01.08.2019)

III. Lack of Awareness and Visibility
The lack of awareness and visibility of disability sport in SSA was seen as a further barrier. The importance of educating and sensitising the public, not only to overcome negative perceptions but also to show that GWWD can play sports was strongly emphasised.

Sport is an effective tool to overcome these barriers. Various scholars have noted that sport provides a context to highlight ability rather than disability. This increases the self-confidence of GWWD as well as enabling sports based interventions aimed at challenging and changing the negative attitudes of society (Bantjes et al., 2019, Albrecht et al., 2019, de Cruz et al., 2019, Bantjes & Schwartz, 2018, Corazza & Dyer, 2017, Devine et al., 2017, Silva & Howe, 2016; Martin, 2007, 2013; Kosma et al., 2007; Giacobbi et al., 2006; Farias-Tomaszewski et al., 2001; Taub & Greer, 2000).

Through sport, “we can demonstrate what these folks are capable of and then it opens doors to do other things including employment, access to voting and things like that.”
(Interviewee 1, 01.07.2019)

“It is important to engage different stakeholders in different activities, like awareness creation, like advocacy and lobbing, like showcasing their ability within disability.” (Interviewee 2, 03.07.2019)

“Sport has contributed a lot to changing the general perception of PWD in this country.” (Interviewee 2, 03.07.2019)

“It was not easy for me to begin sport. It is after a lot of programs of awareness raising like demonstrations or film projections that I decided to practice sport. I’m from the first generation of women doing sport.” (Interviewee 4, 27.07.2019)

“They need to be educated on the benefits of sports, and on what happens when they participate in sports. And also see that they are responsible of their lives, so it shouldn’t be their husband or parents or any other person’s fault.” (Interviewee 6, 01.08.2019)

IV. Sexual Harassment and Abuse
The results of this study emphasised the importance of providing safe spaces as well as support systems for GWWD in sport. The voices asserted that participants face a high risk of gender-based violence and sexual harassment by their coaches and/or managers. This has been identified as “one of the biggest problems” faced by GWWD.

“They are harassed, sexually harassed by their fellow sportsmen or team leaders or coaches or managers. It keeps them away, disabled or not.” (Interviewee 6, 01.08.2019)

“If the facility is far away from where they are coming from, because anything can happen along between the facility and the home of the athlete. So they need to know that they are safe. They need to know that they won’t be sexual harassed or abused. By probably their coaches, or managers, or anyone in charge. … Provision of safe spaces would be good. But sometimes it is not possible. Sometimes men washrooms and female washrooms, they are close to each other.” (Interviewee 6, 01.08.2019)

V. Structural Barriers
Lack of money and the insufficient implementation of rights and legislations regarding PWD such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, are structural barriers that make it more difficult for PWD to claim their right to participate in sport. It was stated that various national legislations and policies regarding PWD in Uganda exist. However, the right of PWD to participate in sport is still not guaranteed. Addressing these issues will also require a stronger effort to reduce corruption, which remains a problem in many African countries (Chiweshe, 2014; Kakonge, 2016; Mwisukha & Mabagala, 2011).

“There is just so very little money and there is so much corruption, that often money goes into the pockets of those that are not always the most reliant and so it really depends upon who gets elected and who ended to run these Paralympic Committees.”
(Interviewee 1, 01.07.2019)

“Most of the women are single mothers. They really focus on how to make money. Or how to parent, or how to make sure they raise their kids they have given birth to.”
(Interviewee 6, 01.08.2019)

“They are the poorest countries but there are some very, very, very rich bastards. Most of the time they are also in the top and in the governments.” (Interviewee 5, 01.08.2019)

The integration of GWWD in sport in Uganda and other parts of SSA has not yet been achieved because of a number of obstacles and barriers. According to Marshall (2018), gender parity in sports will not be achieved any time soon, especially for GWWD – neither in SSA nor in other parts of the world. However, in the last few years, countries have begun to adopt measures to improve gender equality in sport.

Sport for Change in Uganda
Although this study is small, it is the first to report that such trends and experiences are also apparent in Uganda. By drawing upon the traditionally marginalised voices and experiences of female athletes with disabilities and related stakeholders, several progressive, and previously unexamined efforts made by the Paralympic movement in Uganda to address the discrimination of GWWD in sport were revealed.

Quotas and Gender Parity
Recently, the Uganda Paralympic Committee (UPC) applied a top-down approach by introducing quotas to increase the number of WWD in sport leadership positions. The most recent approach involved an explicit demand to nominate a female vice president for every male president in office. Quotas were also applied at the athlete level during sport competitions.

“(…) at least 40 percent of the leadership goes to women. From the Paralympic Committee and the 19 sport organisations. So those 19 sport associations, when they are electing their leadership, 40 percent must be women.” (Interviewee 2, 03.07.2019)

“If we are sending for example, four athletes, two must be women, two must be men. If we are sending three, then two must be women and one must be a man. It has helped us to address such issues.” (Interviewee 2, 03.07.2019)

More emphasis is being placed on increasing awareness and visibility. Nationwide sensitisation campaigns involving the media are being conducted to change the public perception of what GWWD are capable of and how sport can be a tool for prosperity. A recent achievement in this regard was the collaboration of the UPC with universities in the form of sport scholarships.

“If a PWD is engaging in sports at any level the competition of entering universities becomes then very easy for those in sports. So that one has opened up the eyes of the public. Oh, let my child go and participate in sports, because there is this opportunity.”
(Interviewee 2, 03.07.2019)

“We can sensitize these parents by having door-to-door meetings or creating something, like a festival for girls, and we can invite parents to come and see what their children can do.” (Interviewee 8, 07.08.2019)

Overview
This study confirmed that GWWD face a great deal of discrimination in SSA. Various contextual and cultural barriers and challenges hinder GWWD in realising and enabling their right to participate in sport. One of the remarkable findings of this study is the efforts being made to overcome gender inequality in and through sport for GWWD in Uganda.

Recommendations
This research based blog provides insights into some of the factors that should be taken into account when addressing gender discrimination in disability sport in SSA:

• Cultural beliefs and viewpoints of disability must be understood because they are so influential that in some cases they are limiting PWD more than the impairment itself (Groce, 1999, Haihambo & Lightfoot, 2010).
• Raising awareness and providing education about sport opportunities for GWWD are crucial to overcome cultural barriers and to change the perception of society, especially parents. Sport festivals have proven to be a good medium for this purpose. Particular attention should be paid to communities in rural areas, where the rights and opportunities of PWD are less well known.
• Workshops should be conducted and further measures should be taken to empower GWWD and to increase their self-esteem.
• Safe spaces and (social) support systems for GWWD should be provided to minimise the risk of sexual harassment.
• Schools are the main facilitators of inclusive sport opportunities and for many disabled girls, schools are the easiest and first point of contact with sport and PA. For this reason, it is important to ensure that GWD attend school. Further, schools need to be educated about inclusive sport and adapted physical activity.
• Governments should update their commitments to the cause of PWD, and GWWD in particular because most existing policies and legislations have not been translated into reality (Onyewadume, 2007, Aldersey, 2010).

Sport, modern slavery and human rights: reflecting upon 2019 and 2020.

By Grant Jarvie

In 2019 the relationship between sport, modern slavery and human trafficking once again emerged as a significant concern. Much of the existing research has focused upon a limited number of areas. Sports and the sports industry have been actively seeking solutions to problems. A number of multi-lateral organisations that have championed the use of sport as an enabler.

In this final sports matters blog of 2019 we take a brief look at some key events of 2019 and aspirations for 2020.

The Modern Slavery Act

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) was introduced to bring together anti-slavery and human trafficking offences into one piece of legislation. Accordingly, it is an offence to: hold a person in slavery or require a person to perform forced or compulsory labour; facilitate the travel of any person across borders with a view to that person being exploited; or commit an offence with the intention to commit human trafficking.

The International Labour Organisation in 2017 estimated that at any given time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage. This means there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world. 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children. Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labour imposed by state authorities. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.

Sport, modern slavery and human trafficking

In July 2019 the interim findings of the UK cross party group on sport, modern slavery and human trafficking reported that it intended to bring forward recommendations in the following areas:

  • Companies working on the construction of sports venues and in the supply chains of major events to report under the 2015 Modern Slavery Act;
  • In relation to the supply chains of public authorities as well as private companies, the UK Government’s full implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act which reported to Parliament in May 2019;
  • Ensuring adequate child safeguarding for every event hosted in the UK, particularly for youth events;
  • Encouraging sports bodies to consider human rights from the outset and integrate them into bid requirements;
  • When hosting an event, supporting the Local Organising Committee by allocating budget and resource to facilitate human rights due diligence processes;
  • Strengthening the Ofcom Broadcasting Code to consider social media outlets as broadcasters, particularly in cases of live streaming sport;
  • Public authorities to start quantifying who is using what when it comes to public spaces and logging this information in a central database – for example, are boys teams using communal football pitches significantly more than girls teams;
  • Considering enacting legislation similar to Title IX in the United States which views sport as an educational opportunity for girls and key to their future career success;
  • Reviewing the reporting of gender in sport to include other diversity metrics in recognition of the inter-sectionality of several forms of discrimination.

The Sporting Chance Forum, held on 21st and 22nd November in Geneva in the historic Room XX of the UN Palais des Nations, served as a powerful opportunity to discuss the key human rights issues, and their solutions, that exist across the world of sport. Hosted by The Centre for Sport and Human Rights, International Labour Organization, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN Office in Geneva, the programme explored how different actors in the world of sport can use their individual and collective leverage to achieve a world of sport that fully respects human rights.

The cross-party group noted that one of the biggest human rights risks in commercial relationships surrounding sport, particularly regarding MSEs, relates to the construction of venues. When looking at the worst violations of workers rights in the construction of stadiums at MSEs, this can mean fatalities – 50 people died in construction activity for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, 9 people ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, 21 for the 2018 Russia World Cup, 2 so far for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and a wide range of estimates for Qatar 2022, from a few dozen to a few thousand when estimates include non-World Cup projects. London 2012 is the only major IOC or FIFA event in recent years to have zero fatalities.

The human rights risks in the sports supply chain are much the same as the human rights risks in any other supply chain and include:

  • Health and safety
  • Decent working conditions
  • Decent wages.
  • Forced labour
  •  Child labour – Child rights can be impacted if they work illegally including their right to health, right to education and to go to school, right to play, and their right to an adequate standard of living and adequate care.

Sport, humanity and human rights

It is not as if the world of sport is inactive in addressing the challenges that it faces as it enters the third decade of the 21st Century.

If sport connects with so many people internationally then how powerful can it be in the advancement of human rights? The recent case of the Australian footballer Hakkeem Al-Araibi is a powerful reminder of what can be achieved through the fusion of sport and rights. It is incredibly exciting to reflect upon what could be achieved in a bold new world where sport must uphold the universal values which are in reality anything but universal. The case of Hakeem Al-Araibi for Australians is a reminder of what a football and rights movement can achieve together and what the high profile of sports and athletes can enable when they raise their voice in support of the humane treatment of all as they did for Hakeem. This is not conventional politics this is pure human rights and it is a space where athletes can ground their advocacy for a better world.

Should we not understand what human rights policy obligations and due diligence means when applied in such a specific context as sport? It is here that the potential of National Human Rights Associations (NHRI’s) have not been fully realized or utilized by sporting partners. In 2015, the Merida Declaration set out the role that NHRI’s should play in the implementation of the 2030 Global Sustainable Development Goals. The statutory role that they have in advising national governments of their statutory obligations while remaining independent and reporting to the UN is a resource that sport in Scotland might make more use use of.

However, the argument that is put forward here is more than the above.  While accepting that international sport is far from perfect and that the global sports industry needs to be challenged further there is also credence in the argument that sport can play more of a leadership role through (i) the social currency of athletes to amplify important discussions and (ii) a sports and rights movement that gives further credence to the athlete’s message, brings sport and athletes together in a shared advocacy that is enabling the promotion of international human rights instruments on a global level.

When a Tanni Grey Thompson or a Gordon Reid or a Kurt Fearnley challenge perceptions of what an athlete can do in a wheelchair and advocate for the rights of the disabled they are advocating for the rights of others. Sport can help to shift conversations and in the case of Hakeem mentioned above we have the case of a successful campaign to free a footballer who had a greater recourse to international standards as a registered footballer than he did under Australian, Bahraini or Thai domestic law.

When sport uses its new found humanitarian muscle the effects can be powerful. Child labour, supply chain abuse, construction worker deaths, displacement of vulnerable people, burying of human rights abuses and the general sport-washing of mega sports events are no longer just considered the host nation’s problem for sport must increasingly account for its own business and force states to adapt.

Hopes for 2020 and beyond

As international sports calendars unfold year after year it is worth remembering that while there is no single agent, group or sports intervention that can carry the hopes of humanity there are many points of engagement through sport that offer good causes for optimism, that things can get better, that we can move beyond a world paved with good intentions and that sport is a valued part of the mix in making the politics of the possible, possible.

 

The Making of the Caman “An elegant weapon, graceful to wield” –

Dr Hugh D MacLennan, Academy of Sport, Edinburgh University

In the year when the art of making a caman or shinty stick was officially designated “critically endangered” the 2019 Dr Johnnie Cattanach Memorial Lecture at the Highland Folk Museum, focussed on the art and history of making the caman.

The caman is, along with the ball, the most important element in any shinty match and has, over the centuries, undergone little change in terms of its fundamental shape. There have been subtle and important variations though in terms of the shape, size and head.

Over the 125-year history of the Camanachd Association, the caman is one of the least regulated parts of the sport. While making the caman has of necessity been a matter of craft, the history of stick manufacture, however, has been subject to significant external influences which have radically altered the way camans have been made and finished. Not the least of these influences has been the simple scarcity of satisfactory wood.

The caman was described in a late 19th Century newspaper article as “an elegant weapon, graceful to wield, and of delightful capacity for hacking an opponent’s head, or elevating his knee-cap”. The caman has been to war and weddings, funerals, featured in court cases (including a murder in Argyll) and international matches, and is now recognised as one of Scottish sport’s most recognisable iconic images.

Camans have been used to commemorate the passing of playing and club legends; they have at times, gone from the sublime to the quite frankly slightly ridiculous. They have been presented to Kings (probably, but certainly the Duke of Edinburgh) and queens – Miss World; Royalty, Prime Ministers and sporting icons. There is also an argument, in fact, that some of our greatest prizes, the silver-mounted caman, have been distributed well beyond their initial careful intention, as devised by the great John Macpherson and the Sporting Stores in Inverness, of being solely awarded to the winning captain in the Camanachd Cup Final.

The caman (the Gaelic for a shinty stick which also had a “bas” – foot and “cas” – handle), has, over time, been made of birch, beech, ash, hickory or any other piece or combination of timbers; from one-piece “naturals” to laminated boards, all with the common aim of defining and achieving that elusive sweet-spot; various man-made materials have been postulated and even tried, from aluminium to fibre-glass – yes seriously – and various forms of plastic. In the Western Isles stiff pieces of seaweed known as stamh were pressed into service along with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam – until the sheer lack of trees on the islands did for shinty until relatively recently.

Camans have been treasured possession and life-long friends, cared for lovingly, and in their silver-mounted versions, regarded as being one of the most highly prized honours in the sport. A shinty club can be an item of real beauty; its shape, feel and balance exquisite; made of the finest timber, it can be, for sure, elegant and graceful to wield, and yes, as we all know, it can be mis-used and abused as well.

The finest camans are the sporting equivalent of a magic wand – not unlike a snooker player’s favoured cue – an extension of an exponent’s physique and personality. And we have many great images and photographic evidence to prove it.

They have featured in the design and items jewellery from kilt-pins to necklaces; they have been the subject of debate in Parliament with various attempts being made to remove VAT from the cost; they now cost around 50-60 pounds where they once, in my day, cost shillings and sixpence.

They are rarely thrown out and most shinty playing homes have the wreckage of a player’s career somewhere in a garage or a loft. They have never, to date, been cited as evidence in a divorce case, but the possibility is not to be dismissed. “It’s me or that pile of sticks in the garage” is not an unknown refrain.

One of the most often rehearsed debates in shinty is about the quality of the sticks – and the balls – similar in fact to the wider perennial debate about standards of play, collectively and individually. The universal and unchallenged opinion is that players today are not as good as they once were; the game is not so good, traditional skills are rare; “so and so” makes a better stick than “so and so” does or did.

Camans have been subject to reports about their demise for many years; the Highlands and Islands Development Board in 1981 commissioned a report on the supply of camans and balls. They have been gathered and displayed in exhibitions such as the Shinty Forum in 1974 and Hampden 2015. They have been tested to, and beyond, destruction all with the aim of establishing the indefinable qualities of shape, weight, balance and feel.

The history of the making of shinty stick production has gone through numerous stages from the point they were made by the players who used them. From branches cut from trees locally, they reached a point where they have been made in a process of more or less industrial scale.

Organisations such as John Macpherson Sporting Stores (arguably the most important in the history of the sport), Willie Munro and then John and Mabel Sloggie (also hugely important in terms iof continuous supply), Rivdal, Prolam, Leisuropa, Heron, Tanera, Treecraft, have been matched if not in terms of scale, then in terms of skill, ingenuity and craft by the likes of Neil Blair, George Mead in England, Billy MacLean, Hughie Buchanan, Dod Macpherson and Jack Buchanan – that list is not definitive and is virtually endless. The companies and various individuals’ efforts to make camans, have often helped keep the game alive in Highland communities. In the case of John Macpherson and John and Mabel Sloggie they certainly stood between survival and the game grinding to a halt.

A number of Museums, principally the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore and the Clan Macpherson Museum hold a significant number of camans, old and new. It is now time for some mechanism to be developed to display these to followers of the game, players and those who are fascinated by the beauty and heritage of sporting implements.

Every shinty stick has a story to tell and some of these are well documented in Gaelic and English, in works of great scholarship, newspaper columns and in oral form through recordings and video.

Shinty should have a way of highlighting the importance of the caman and stick-makers and paying tribute to its finest exponents. These thoughts may go some way towards galvanising everyone into achieving such a valuable and significant outcome.

Game of loans

By Paul Widdop, Manchester Metropolitan University 

Alex Bond, Leeds Metropolitan University 

and Daniel Parnell, Liverpool University 

All told 1900 was quite a year, as wars and industrial strikes broke out across the globe, something else was beginning to stir, the emergence of football’s royalty. As winter tightened its grip on the population of Munich, eighteen young men in a restaurant in the city district of Schwabing were plotting and forming a club, one which would become a giant; a social institution, FC Bayern Munich. From those early days in Bavaria, Bayern has witnessed an unprecedented change in the history of Europe and its Football. Germany’s most successful club now find themselves in a global arms race competing across Europe with the very elite of the game, what’s at stake in this game is the most valuable scarce resource of them all, talent. In Bayern’s 119 year history the trading place for these resources has evolved into a global capitalist economic market model, one which regulation pays little attention too.

Perhaps our story here starts at the end of this club’s current historic path, one which documents and explores how the trading market has evolved and one which captures the constant capitalist need for growth. On 19 August 2019, Bayern made perhaps the biggest transfer of the European summer window, they signed Barcelona’s Brazilian midfield playmaker Philipe Coutinho. Yet such as the market has changed, this was not a straightforward trade between the two clubs involved, it was a strategic alliance and a commitment to loan the asset on a season-long loan, which will see Bayern pay Barcelona a loan-fee of €8.5 million plus Coutinho’s wages. How have we got to these market trading conditions and what does it mean for Bayern and all clubs operating within it? This is the focus of this article.

Philipe Coutinho Signs for Bayern

In a recent paper the Alex Bond, Paul Widdop and Dan Parnell, this loan market was explored and described, looking at its structure and trading flow. The results gave a fascinating insight into the market evolution of football and how resources flow in a market with a non-existent to limited regulation. We could say that Football is a window to a neo-classical economic view of a pure market. We have conceptualised what this market looks like, with clubs connected to others as they make loan signing alliances. In fact it looks like this.

The European Loan Market 2009-2017 

Using data on the top-5 European leagues in European football 8139 loan transactions between 31 December 2009 and 22 December 2017 were analysed using social network analysis. Clubs are sized by their aggregate degree (number of connections to other clubs) and colour coded using a modularity algorithm (those who are more connected to each other than others). The modularity shows the natural clusters or communities loan transactions create, with each colour generally representing the countries clubs loan/borrow players to/from: light green (Premier League); pink (Serie A); orange (Bundesliga); blue (La Liga) and dark green (Ligue 1).

As illustrated, the loan system is now integral to football operations globally yet it is under-researched, which is ironic given the economic value of these trading flows. But what does all this mean. Firstly, we can conceptualise the loan system as a cross-subsidisation mechanism which distributes playing resource (assets) from one club to another. This is often advantageous to both; resource improvement/development for the giving club; better-playing resource for the receiving. Using these temporal transactions we used social network analysis to analyse the economic relations created by the loan system illustrated above.

We find several stand out points. Firstly, the loan system across Europe is embedded within some countries more than most, namely Italy. Secondly, there are ‘value creators’ (whos who often reply on loans as a talent resource) and ‘value extractors’ (those clubs who send more players out on loan to other clubs) within the loan system. Third, clearly some clubs have strategised the loan system, namely the European elite, especially Juventus. Finally, some clubs are ‘dependent’ on giving and receiving players through the loan system, therefore any regulation needs to consider unintended consequences

The practical implications of this structural account of the loan market are twofold; 1) executive-level professionals in the football industry need to understand the structure of the market within they are operating, especially as this reduces the rationality of choice, and decisions need to be made in the context of strategy; and, 2) UEFA and FIFA need to full understand the structure of the market before considering regulating it, as there may be a number of unintended consequences, especially for those ‘value creators’ who rely on loans for talent.

But what was to become of FC Bayern Munich in this interconnected future. Given their elevated status in the game, they have a rather modest loan transaction model. According to our data, over the period studied they took 4 players on loan and loaned out 22. So they traditionally haven’t been aggressive in the loan market. This is especially modest compared with Bundesliga contemporaries Bayer Leverkusen (11 loans inward and 58 outward) and Hoffenheim (10 inward and 76 outward). FC Bayern Munich have not maximised their dominant market position.

Perhaps as the Riesling was flowing on that winters day in Munich 1900, those eighteen founding fathers talked of companionship, collective action, something for the people, a foci to share ideas, to share their love of football. Whether collective thoughts wondered off to the world of Brazilian loan signings is another matter, what is clear Bayern are very much part of this modern football trading market, and what is at stake is scarce resources, talent.

The journal article can be accessed here Topological network properties of the European football loan system – European Sport Management Quarterly

Paul Widdop :p.widdop@mmu.ac.uk

Alex Bond :a.bond@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Dan Parnell: d.parnell@liverpool.ac.uk

Sail-training and intercultural learning: Voices from the sea

By Yujun Xu

University of Edinburgh 

• Research suggests that sail-training at sea provides an alternative space for intercultural learning and that the confinement of the ship provides for an opportunity for transformative cultural experiences- but is this the case ?

Enabling generation z to develop intercultural competences and become international citizens with obligations to others can take many forms. The relationship between sail-training, youth and intercultural learning remains an underexplored area both locally and internationally.

This evidenced research blog provides a qualitative insight into the potential of sail-training to be a transformative experience that provides for real educational outcomes in an informal educational setting.

Sail-training, liquid time and generation z

The tall ships are informal educational settings but does sail-training have a special role to play in youth development and intercultural learning? Is it time for a radical rethink about the definition of learning in outdoor spaces and the educative value of learning for youth development in a world that is tense, looking for answers and where better cultural relations between the different people of the world is needed?

Living in a liquid time when everything is on the move and potentially surrounded by diversity, the youth of today and in this case generation Z (born between the mid-1990s and early-2000s) have been significantly influenced by high technology and mobile device based social media in comparison to previous generations.

Tall ship sail-training spaces provide possibilities for experience and collective associations that can combat the often exclusionary effects of traditional educational spaces. The ship at sea can be viewed as a bounded socio-cultural space. The culture potential for inter-cultural learning allows individuals to experience differences in a constructive and empowering way.

Participants of sail-training have an opportunity to reach beyond the everyday social norms that have hitherto constructed and constrained their identities. Tall ship sail-training provides a reflective learning space that can contribute to effective intercultural learning, the breaking down of cultural barriers and the forging of better cultural relations – but are such relationships sustainable and transformative? Listen to some of these voices.

Voices from the sea

Such questions are at the heart of a much bigger study that traces sail-training participants experiences on board and afterwards in order to test what has actually been learned. The four voices presented here are but glimpses of a broader group of sail-training vignettes. Listen to the voices from the sea on certain themes:

• Talking about the natural environment: ‘We have experienced very rough weather, which is always helpful for bringing a group together, having really bad weather, having tough times together in the ocean also makes a difference from other sports’. (Crewmember, I)
• Talking about confined space and limited privacy: ‘We are more isolated than other sports. Here on a ship, you wake up each other using a personal wakey up you hold someone’s bucket. Then you are really close.’ (Crewmember, S)
• Talking about freedom from social media: ‘The social media detox definitely forced people to talk more. A lot of time in social settings, people seek refuge on their phones if they feel uncomfortable. They go to their phones and just look down. I feel that not having access to the internet made it a lot easier for people to avoid doing that. I think it brought up my focus a lot more.’ [Sail trainee, D]
• Talking about teamwork and collaborative experience:. ‘I think to experience the power of the group. Being a part of a group is a very good experience to see how the group can work together, how one plus one can be three, and I don’t think that everyone has experienced that. And sailing is a perfect way to experience that.’ [Crewmember, J]

How can we make sense of the voices from the sea: What are they really saying?
From the trainees’ and crewmembers’ points of view, sail-training is different from other sports or educational fields because of the environmental isolation. The isolation led to unique challenges and toughness that brought together the group and drove the group members to help each other and become relatively dependent on one another. This facilitated the trainees’ intercultural learning, understanding and flexibility. To some degree, the 24/7 intensity stimulated the participants’ critical thinking about their intercultural experiences.

Sail-training serves as an alternative education space and for Generation Z to temporarily escape the fluid time of the modern society and create opportunities for them to develop their intercultural understanding, and encourage their experiential engagement and creativity.

Tall ships, internationality and the search for common purpose

The United Nations, especially UNESCO, has been actively supporting and promoting learning and conversations between and within intercultural groups and communities. Regional unions such as the European Union (EU) are also reacting to the contemporary situation and endeavouring to commit to EU exchanges more often for more people. Such a goal if facilitated by Erasmus funding (+) to encourage youth to participate in a wide variety of programmes and activities to reinforce their European identity, as well as facilitate their understandings towards the self and the other.

As yet few initiatives and sources of funding are available to promote experiential exchange and interaction amongst Asian countries and other regions or parts of the world. 2018 saw the Tall Ships fleet sailing to the Pacific Rim for a truly unique race. This regatta marked the first race between the southern Korean Peninsula and the eastern coast of Russia and the fleet was joined by a flotilla of yachts from Chinese Qingdao International Yacht Club. It is suggested Asian countries could use youth development through sports and outdoor activities, including tall ship sailing, as a common purpose to develop more peace-oriented intercultural or exchange projects if not a more peaceful orientated world.

Concluding remark

Sail-training is a unique space in which inter-cultural learning between people and nations can be forged. In a tense and changing world why should this and other opportunities not be grasped in order to facilitate better cultural relations, diplomacy and international understanding?

The evidence presented here supports the idea that sail-training at sea provides an alternative space for intercultural learning and that the confinement of the ship provides for an opportunity for transformative cultural experiences.

Mo Salah changing social and political attitudes: Some Liverpool Voices

By Salma Abdalla and Grant Jarvie

Introduction
Few Muslims in British public life and British sporting life have been as open about their Muslim identity. This short evidenced research blog presents a series of voices around a set of themes, primarily Liverpool voices. They are a reflection on the impact of one footballer credited with changing social attitudes to perceptions about Islam in Britain since arriving at Liverpool Football Club in 2017. They resulted from a six-month period of fieldwork during 2017-18.

Athletes as social and political game changers
Mo Salah is part of a significant history of talented sports people who have used the highly visible public platform provided by sport to shed light on a number of social and political causes. A number of athletes have fought and aligned themselves to different social and political causes.

Ten Key Facts:
• Born in Nagrig, in the Gharbia district of Egypt (10% of people live in poverty).
• Salah’s football journey has included El Mokawloon Basle, Chelsea, Fiorentina and Roma.
• 2017 joins Liverpool Football Club for £36.9 million.
• In October 2017, Salah scored the penalty that sent Egypt to their first World Cup finals in 28 years.
• Stanford Study reports a reduction in hate crime in Liverpool, dropping by 18.8%. since Salah the club.
• Scored the opening goal in the Champions League Final
• The Salah effect linked to changing attitudes towards Muslims on Merseyside.
• Has supported struggles for women in Egypt stating that We need to change the way we treat women in our culture”.
• 2019 Times 100 list of influential people.
• Salah has maintained a close relationship with his family, neighbours and friends in Nagrig. He nurtures this relationship by supporting various development projects in village, ranging from youth centres to schools and hospitals.

Effect on Muslims as a source of pride and belonging:
“I think he has made the Muslim community in Liverpool and across the globe very proud. He has been a torchbearer of our faith in difficult times. He has broken many different barriers related to Islamophobia” (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 1).

“My obsession or pride towards him isn’t because he is Mo Salah, my pride is because he is a Muslim doing amazing in the game and I love the fact that the second he does something wrong white people will jump to protect him” (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 2).

“I am not a football fan but now Salah makes us talk about football. We feel proud and we show our support for him (Non-Football Muslim 1).

“Salah is showing that there’s avenue within sport and that you can do that as a Muslim and as an Arab, which is changing perceptions of local communities (Female Muslim football Fan 1).

Changing perceptions:
“He has changed the many different negative perceptions that people hold about the Muslim community and Muslim players (Male Muslim Liverpool Fan 1).

“I don’t know if he has made convers to Islam but he has opened people up to thinking about Islam in a different way…” (Non-Football Muslim 2).

“I think Salah challenges perceptions of what a Muslim is in Britain at this point in time” (Female Football Fan 2).

Wide acceptance and personality:
“Perhaps it comes down to success and I think regardless of a player’s background, religion, ethnicity, if you’re bringing your club success then fans are going to get behind you… (Female Football Fan 2).

“They footballers make millions and while Salah never speaks about it – he wants to do charity, he wants to do things for the community and he acts as a normal human being – he can make an impact because he is all about family, love of community and people in Liverpool relate to him” (Male Football Fan 4).

“He is experienced at being a Muslim or Islamic …. People are aware of the way it is talked about but he manages to do it in a way that is completely non-threatening” (Male Football Fan 5)

Celebrating faith:
“He is unapologetically Muslim, the beard, the prostration, the hand in the air and his name is Mohammed.. it is all of these things and on top of that he is a brilliant footballer” (Male Football Fan 2).

Context:
Most respondents agreed that the context, the place and the rise of Salah in Liverpool cannot be ignored.

“Liverpool is quite inclusive in that aspect and they seem to tie together as a family because of historical things that they kind of experienced together , their anthem you’ll never walk alone has a kind of encompassing feeling” (Female Football Fan 2).

Jurgen Klopp:
“It’s fantastic it is exactly what we need in these times .. To see this wonderful young man, full of joy, full of love, full of friendship, full of everything in a world where we struggle to understand all the things happening on the planet”

“Mo is a very smart person and his role is very influential. In the world at the moment, it is very important that you have people like Mo”

Conclusion.
The qualitative voices presented here add to some of the quantitative empirical work around what many are calling the off-field Salah effect. The voices talk to the impact of the player in Liverpool but equally a number of commentators have also reflected upon the impact of the footballer upon an Egyptian youth looking for role models.

Cothroman, ceistean is cunnartan do chamanachd nam ban.

The Camanachd Cup, pictured on the centre spot at Mossfield Park, Oban.

By 

Ùisdean Macillinnein

Le Cupa Ball-coise na Cruinne do bhoireannaich air soirbheachadh cho math san Fhraing an 2019, tha aire an t-saoghail air gluasad gu spòrs bhan ann an dòigh nach robh duine air sùileachadh, fiùs bliadhna air ais. Agus le buidhnean leithid FIFA agus buidhnean nàiseanta a-nis mothachail gur e slighe malairteach a tha ron earrann sin dhen ghèam as motha air feadh an t-saoghail, chan eil teagamh nach tig leudachadh agus leasachadh gu math nas sgiobalta air a h-uile taobh dhen ghèam do na boireannaich.

Chan eil an raon romhpa uile gu lèir cho rèidh sin ged-tha, ged a tha an saoghal do bhall-coise nam ban gu math nas gleansach agus nas tarraingiche an-diugh na bha e mus do thòisich Farpais na Cruinne. Leanaidh an geam an t-airgid, chionn tha FIFA agus buidhnean nàiseanta mothachail a-nis gur fhaodadh gum bi sruth airgid ann dhaibh fhèin an-lùib an leasachaidh, agus bidh na cluicheadairean iad fhèin, mar a dhearbh boireannaich an USA, gu math mothachail air an luach fhèin anns an t-sroillich feuch cò as motha a gheibh an cothrom air an sporran.

Tha sin ceart gu leòr do bhoireannaich a tha ri ball-coise ged a tha ceistean gu leòr ann fhathast mu chiamar a dhèiligeas na dùthachan beaga (a thaobh àireamhan chluicheadairean) leithid Alba ri cùisean. Ach a bheil, gu fìrinneach, an dealbh cho buileach gleansach agus gealltainneach do spòrs nam ban? Agus gu sònraichte `s dòcha do mhean-spòrs leithid camanachd far a bheil na h-àireamhn buileach nas lugha?

Mus coimhead sinn air an t-suidheachadh a’ dol air adhart, tha e feumail coimhead air càite an robh camanachd nam ban anns na bliadhnaichean a chaidh, can fiùs 10, 20 gun tighinn air 50 bliadhna air ais.

Nam biodh duine air a ràdh rium fhèin anns na seachdan anns an Oilthigh an Glaschu, far nach boireannach faisg air na geamaichean againn mur robh iad ri suirighe, gum biodh camanachd nam ban far a bheil e an-diugh, cha robh mi air facal a chreidsinn.  Geamaichean beò air an telebhisein (air seirbheis Ghàidhlig cuideachd) le structuran nàiseanta, fiùs aon bhoireannach na rèitire air geamaichen nam fear, agus cloinn-nighinn gu math tric a’ nochdadh an co-ionnannachd ri gillean agus fireannaich ann an geamaichean àbhaisteach.

Ri mo latha sa, a’ dol air ais gu m’fhìor òige, cha robh boireannaich nam pàirt de chamanachd ann an dòigh sam bith ach ris an iomall, a’ dèanamh an tì ma bha iad idir ann, agus a’ frithealadh leithid thiocaidean, raffles is eile.  Beag air bheag ged tha, fiùs anns na 70-an, agus an saoghal mòr ag atharrachadh, thòisich an crathadh, ged nach tàinig a’ chrith-thalmhainn a bha cuid a’ muigheadh, fiùs le fealla-dha.

Ma `s math mo chuimhne bha Liz NicAonghais (à Steòrnabhagh bho thùs, gu h-inntinneach) am measg a’ chiad bhoireannaich a nchd ann an saoghal follaiseach na camanachd, agus còmhla rithe thàinig leithid Donnella Crawford mu dheas. Ged nach robh iad a’ cluich, agus chan aithne dhomh cho fada air ais ri sin gu robh cluich sam bith a’ dol ach corra gheam spòrsail agus fealla-dha, `s ann ann an rianachd a’ ghèaim a rinn na boireannaich sin an slighe air adhart. Bha iad an sàs ann an comataidhean nàiseanta, agus le Donna gu sònraichte ann an saoghal nan sgoiltean far an robh grunn luchd-teagasg bho àm gu àm a’ cuideachadh ann an sgoiltean. Ach `s e saoghal nam fear a bha an saoghal na camanachd. Agus leis an eachdraidh a th’aig a’ ghèam agus an suidheachadh sòisealta a bha a’ riaghladh air feadh na Gàidhealtachd gu h-eachdraidheil, cha bu chòir sin a bhith na iongnadh.

Ged a bha stroillich gu leòr anns na 70-an am measg bhoireannaich nach robh iad a’ faighinn cothrom na fèinne ann an saoghal na camanachd – agus tha irisean Leabhair Bhliadhnail na Camanachd an “Shinty Yearbook” na dhearbhadh air sin, thug e còrr math is fichead bliadhna gus an do thòisich an siol a chaidh a chur sna 70-an a’ fas.

`S ann mu thionndadh na linne a thàinig cùisean gu ceann agus am follais le gèamaichean a’ tòiseachadh ann an grunn sgìrean – mun Òban , Gleann na Garadh is eile, agus sradag bheag a’ beòthachadh an sud san seo.  Bha na sgiobaidhean sin an ìre mhath uile an crochadh air aon neach no dha a bha gam putadh agus gam misneachadh agus mar a thòisich an gluasad `s ann a bu dhàine a thòisich na boireannaich a’ dol an sàs ann an cluich.

Ach bha gu leòr nan aghaidh – “Watch Out Boys, Revolution’s in the Air as Shinty Widows Stage a Takeover”,  sgrìobha Liz MacInnes, a bha aig an àm na Rùnaire air sgioba Inbhir Nis agus air comadaidhean eile.  “Many of the men treat us as a joke,” thuirt i, “and are loathe to listen to our opinions.”  Cha robh e fada agus an do thòisich a’ chuibhle a’ dol mun cuairt.

Bha aon shuidheachadh eile a chuidich leis a’ ghluasad seo agus am fàs, agus gu n-annasach `s e crìonadh a bh’air cùl chùisean.  Bha àireamhan sgoilearan ann am bun-sgoiltean air feadh na Gàidhealtachd, agus ann an sgìrean far am bu dual camanachd a’ crìonadh – ceangailte gu math tri cri cion-cosnaidh ann an sgìrean.   Leis sin, bha e a’ faireachdainn air cuid de sgoiltean sgiobaidhean a chur a-mach ann am farpaisean gus an do thuig iad gun gabhadh sgiobaidhean a thoirt còmhla nam biodh gillean agus clann-nighean gan cur còmhla.

Bha cuideachd gluasadan am measg oileanaich a bha a’ lorg rudan agus spòrs ùr mar phairt de dh’atharraichean sòisealta eile agus miann co-ionnannachd. Chan e mhàin gu do thòisich boireannaich (òga) a’ nochdadh, ach thachair seo aig àm far an robh an gèam a’ sgaoileadh gu sgìrean ùra leithid Dhun Phàrlain agus Fiobha, bha sgioba Mheadhan-Earra-Ghàidheil an Glaschu, le corra bhan-Eireannach nam measg, cuideachd gu math taiceil agus thug sgioba Dhunadd ann an Ceann LochGilp impidh do chùisean bho 1995, agus leis sin cuideachd thòisich cuid de na meadhanan a’ gabhail aire de na bha a’ tachairt. Aig àmanan bha sin ann an dòighean a bha car fanaideach ach rè ùine, mar a thòisich boireannaich a’ nochdadh ann an suidheachain spòrs eile, (agus mar a thòisich an lagh agus beachdan dhaoine ag atharrachadh, sdòcha), shiollaidh sin air falbh.

Tha cùisean gu math eadar-dhealaichte a-nis, ged nach eil a h-uile càil an òrdugh no mar bu mhiann le cuid. Tha astar an fhàs a’ sìor thogail agus chaidh an àireamh de bhoireannaich a tha a’ cluich aig ìre inbheach suas bho 224 ann an 2015 gu 423 an uiridh; am measg chloinn-nighean òga chaidh na h-àireamhan suas 122 gu 337 aig an aon àm.  Tha a-nis 20 buidheann bhan a’ cluich camanachd le glè fhaisg air 36 sgioba fa-leth a’ cluich aig diofar ìrean.  `S dòcha gur ann ans an Eilean Sgitheanach a bu luaithe a tha am fàs an deidh dhaibh sgioba a’ stèidheachadh ann an 2011.

San fhichead bliadhna a dh’fhalbh, tha camanachd nam ban air tighinn gu ìre far a bheil dithis bhoireannach air Bord-stiùiridh Chomann na Camanachd, tha na h-àimhrean cluiche a’ sìor dhol am meud, tha sgiobaidhean nam fear air gabhail ri na boireannaich mar phàirt chudromach dhan ghèam agus airidh air taic, ged nach do nochd fhathast ach aon bhoireannach na rèitire air geamaichean nam fear gu cunbhallach.

An uiridh an 2018, chaidh a’ chuairt dheireannach de Chupa Chamanachd nam Ban, Cupa Valerie Fhriseil, a chraoladh beò air BBC Alba le na ceudan an làthair an Ceann a’ Ghiùthsaich agus bana-rèitire a’ riaghladh. A’ cluich sa ghèam sin bha aon bhoireannach, Kirsty Deans, a bhoinneas do Cheann a’ Ghiùthsaich,  a nochd seachdain an deidh sin ann an geam beò eile air an TV agus i a’ cluich ball-coise.  Chaidh i air adhart bhon sin gu bhith air a h-ainmeachadh mar sgiobair air sgioba chamanachd Alba a’ cluich an Eireann agus chaidh a h-ainmeachadh mar neach spòrs na bliadhna air a’ Ghàidhealtachd le pàipear naidheachd na sgìre, am Press & Journal.

Agus thas Kirsty chòir na sàmhla air a’ ghèam san fharsaingeachd, na cothroman, na ceistean na cunnartan. Mar neach teagaisg PE tha i eòlach gu leòr air spòrs agus air a tarraing eadar diofar spòrs. Agus sin a’ cheist mhòr a- nis. Le leithid rugbaidh nam ban agus ball-coise nam ban a’ sìor leudachadh agus a’ fàs nas proifeiseanta, a bheil camanachd gu bhith ann an suidheachadh na boireannaich a chumail aca fhèin, neo an tòisich iad a’ sruthadh air falbh gu spòrs eile.

Tha a h-uile coltas ann an dràsta gu bheil impidh an casan na camanachd agus ma thèid aig Comann na Camanachd fhèin air suidheachadh nam ban a dhaingneachadh ann an riaghladh agus ro-innleachd a’ ghèaim, sdòcha, dìreach sdòcha, gu bheil saoghal ùr romhainn.  Tha sinn pìos math air chùlaibh gèam na h-Éireann ach tha gu leòr an sin as urrainn dhuinn ionnsachadh.  Ach tha aon rud cinnteach, mura freagair sinn na ceistean agus mura gabh sinn na cothroman, leanaidh na cunnartan.

Ùisdean Macillinnein

Fresh winds for equity in the beautiful game but challenges remain

By Grant Jarvie – University of Edinburgh 

Almost four years ago the Academy of Sport was invited to contribute to the then calls for reform in world soccer and support for women’s soccer. A summary of the contribution can be found here. The case for support focused upon two key themes. Firstly, that women were under-represented in decision making in world soccer and secondly that women’s football was under-resourced.

At the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup held France a panel of experts on the women’s game both domestically and internationally gathered at the University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Sport to both celebrate women’s soccer and reflect upon lessons and observations on the beautiful game.

Ebru Koksal one of only two women to have been the CEO of a Champions League Football Club and current chair of women in football championed the case for being bold for change.

2019 World Cup finance and equal pay
The 2019 World Cup is the first where the clubs will be compensated for releasing their players. Another gap closed in principle. The total FIFA input of £39 million is more than three times the amount made available for Canada in 2015. The total prize fund at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was more than £300 million. Lessons need to be learned in relation to how the Women’s World Cup rights are commercialised.

England’s Toni Duggan believes that the players should be paid more but not the same as men. Most of the professional women players with the big clubs in England will be on six-figure salaries. This is more than many SPFL men players and yet equality for Duggan is as much about pitches, facilities and parity of esteem. In Europe fans are much more open to supporting the club rather than the fact that it is the men or women’s team playing. In 2019 Duggan finished her second season with Barcelona and played in front of the then league record crowd of 60,739.

The five majors
The CIES 2019 demographic analysis of five major women’s football leagues (England, Germany, Sweden, France and the USA all of whom reached the quarter finals in France) can be found here. It concluded that the economic development occurring at the top of the pyramid of women’s professional football indicates that the age of players tends to increase as international mobility grows and that the concentration of the best footballers within a limited number of clubs in the best leagues remains concentrated in these five countries.

From the players playing in France 2019 Canada is the country with the biggest contingent of expatriate players in the championship with a total of 28. Canadians are particularly numerous in the United States with the National Women’s Soccer League, the majority of Scottish women head for England while half of the expatriate American’s play in Sweden.

Challenges and opportunities
Whether it be the domestic of international front fresh winds for more equity in the beautiful game are being called for. Along with challenges come opportunities argued Ebru Koksal. The UEFA women’s football strategy talks of : Doubling the number of women and girls playing football in UEFA’s member associations to 2.5 million; Changing the perceptions of women’s football across Europe; Doubling the reach and value of the UEFA Women’s EURO and the UEFA Women’s Champions League; Improving player standards by reaching standard agreements for national team players and putting safeguarding policies in place in all 55 member associations and doubling female representation on all UEFA bodies.

Progress but challenges remain.
At the first World Cup in 1991 the gender split of the coaches was 11 (men) and 1 (woman) while in France men continued to dominate 16 to 8.

The USA ranked number one in the world going into the tournament sees US soccer involved in a lawsuit accused of gender discrimination. 28 members of the USA World Cup Soccer squad filed the lawsuit on 8 March 2019 alleging institutionalised gender discrimination that included inequitable compensation when compared to their male counterparts in the USA.

Norway entered the tournament without Ada Hegerberg , the first female Ballon d’Or winner, who stepped away from the National team in 2017 because of the perceived or otherwise lack of disregard for women’s football in Norway.

Domestic insights
Domestically it was the first World Cup that Scotland had qualified for since 1998. The country has arguably witnessed a culture shift with taxi drivers talking excitedly about the game in a country that has no full-time professional league that women can play in.

Between 2015 and 2019 the number of registered female players in Scotland has risen to about 14,000. 6.1 million viewers watched Scotland v England. 18,555 attended the Scotland v Jamaica build up game at Hampden Park just prior to the World Cup – a record crowd for a women’s game at Hampden. The average attendance at women’s football matches in Scotland is about 1500.

Commentators on the women’s game regularly point to the fact that it is a cleaner and easier product to sell – no gambling, no alcohol sponsorship and not troubled by sectarianism.

Laura Montgomery, co-founder of Glasgow City, the most successful women’s team to date in Scotland and who according to Rachel Corsie – Scotland’s Captain has done more than anyone to advance the game for women and girls in Scotland also joined the University of Edinburgh discussion and provided a real insight into the challenge to grow and sustain the women’s game in Scotland while not compromising on the quality of input.

Significantly she asked where would the women’s game in Scotland be now if it had not been banned?

Leeann Dempster CEO of Hibernian Football Club talking about the state of the women’s game in Scotland sees it as getting stronger but that does not mean that it is strong as it should be. For the CEO key questions remain:

• How do we fund the growth of the women’s game in Scotland?
• How do we bring in the commercial rewards it deserves?
• Who takes responsibility for the women’s game in Scotland? Where does it sit? Who takes the lead?

Concluding comment
Football, soccer remains one of the most visible areas of public life in many countries. The 50 page review of women’s football published just prior to the 2019 World Cup suggested that fresh winds of equity were blowing but that significant challenges remain- see here. Such a visible are of public life brings with it responsibilities for forging and enjoying the benefits that gender equality and diversity brings with and through soccer.