Island athletes are again being given new flexibility to benefit from a scheme to support them with travel costs, thanks to a partnership between sportscotland and the local authorities in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
The Islands Athlete Travel Award Scheme helps ‘elite pathway’ athletes – athletes with potential to reach elite levels of competition and performance - from the three island communities gain better access to competitive and training opportunities without having to relocate from the islands.
It’s the fourth time the scheme has opened for applications, and this time features a bespoke, more flexible application process to address ongoing uncertainty over the sporting calendar due to the pandemic.
There will be two application dates – July (now) and October. Athletes will be able to apply at each point, however the maximum any individual will receive in total is £1,500.
sportscotland has allocated each of the three local authorities £10k, with the Councils then required to top this up with £2k of their own funding plus the equivalent of £3k of management and administrative time.
The amounts received by successful applicants will be based on a number of criteria including their forecasted Competition and Training schedule, understanding of the Sports Performance Pathway and National Rankings. The application process also requires athletes to evidence how the grant will improve their performance, provide them access to quality training opportunities and improve their sports or club environment.
The current application period is open until 5pm on Friday 23 July, with applications invited for the period August – December 2021, or right through until April 2022.
The second October round will cover the period January – April 2022.
Councillor Gwenda Shearer is Chair of Orkney Islands Council's Education, Leisure and Housing Committee.
She said: " I'm delighted that we are working with sportscotland once again to offer this invaluable support to our athletes, despite the uncertain times, to enable them to compete and develop on a level playing field with their counterparts across Scotland.
“We hope this more flexible approach to applications at this time will address the ongoing sketchiness athletes face and offer some certainties as they look to make the most of opportunities in coming months.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland, said: “This has been an incredibly challenging period for Scottish sport but athletes and coaches have shown a real resilience and commitment in finding ways to continue their training during the pandemic.
“We recognise the specific challenges faced by athletes within the Highland & Islands, especially at this time, so it’s important to be flexible in how we provide support. By working in partnership with the councils and leisure trusts in Highland & Islands we are able to deliver services to local athletes with support from the sportscotland institute of sport through the performance development programme, as well as providing additional support through the athlete travel award scheme to allow talented athletes to travel to competitions and progress in their chosen sport.”