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Caley Thistle hail Highland Council decision as major boost to girls’ and women’s football 


Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner has welcomed a Highland Council decision that he believes will have a major impact on women’s and girls football in Inverness.

The Council has agreed to lease eight acres of disused land next to Inverness Royal Academy to Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Trust.

The decision was made at a full Council meeting held behind closed doors on Thursday night with the Trust set to pay a nominal fee for the 25-year lease.

Working with the Scottish Football Association and Sport Scotland, the Trust will develop the land into a base for the Caley Thistle women’s team as well as for the benefit of other sports clubs and the wider community.

Gardiner said: “The positive impact this decision will have across our community, for our Trust, our own Academy, the pupils of the Royal Academy and in particular, for our girls and women’s game cannot be over-emphasised.

“This is going to be a major pillar of the football club’s community centric approach going forward and I am very thankful to have a chairman and board of directors at the club who share this vision.

“I watched the decision of Highland Council live here at the stadium on Thursday night and if that was tense and emotional, it was nothing compared to driving round to the Royal Academy immediately afterwards to tell Karen Mason that ICTWFC now had a home of their own and then telling some of our Academy and Trust coaches the fantastic news on the next pitch.”

He added: “I could not be happier for the ICT Community Trust, particularly Craig Masterton and his staff and his board of directors, for Karen Mason who heads the ICTFC Women’s section and for all of the people in our community who are going to enjoy and benefit from this exciting step in the history of the club and our Community Trust.

“So much hard work has gone into the last couple of years to get to this point and the support and encouragement we have had from in and around the city has been inspiring.”

Gardiner also praised the contribution of Caley Thistle’s sporting director John Robertson for his “initial idea and drive” to turn the project into a reality.

Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner said: “We welcome the community asset transfer to Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Development Trust as it offers an opportunity to improve and develop the playing field and facilities that will benefit both Inverness Royal Academy pupils and the wider community.

“The proposal includes development of apprenticeships, training and support opportunities for disadvantaged young people and clearly demonstrates the benefits associated with community transfer. It aligns with both Council and community priorities for regeneration, health and wellbeing in the local area.”

Caley Thistle Women will have their own base at the development. Photo supplied by Peter Paul/caleyjags.com

Craig Masterton, the general manager of Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Trust, said: “We are delighted to take this significant step on the exciting journey towards establishing what will become the Trust’s new home.

“To have the chance to develop a base in our community will allow us to bring people together and enhance the positive impact we currently deliver, providing more opportunities for participation and progression in our activities for the local community and beyond.

“To also have a home for women and girls football in the heart of the city is such a huge step forward for the game in the Highlands. Our weekly Trust work has seen the growth of girls football before our very eyes and this can now only grow even more.

“The ICT Community Trust Hub will allow us to work collaboratively to engage a broad spectrum of our community with girls and boys from three years old, right up to retirement age and beyond, covering many different activities from literacy development, to health and fitness classes, to football memories, using football as the catalyst to drive engagement.

“The stability brought by having the ICT Community Trust Hub will help develop new activities like our inclusive para football sessions where we hope to drive participation with the ultimate goal of representing the region at national events removing any potential barriers.”

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[Caley Thistle hail Highland Council decision as major boost to girls’ and women’s football ]

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