Orkney Women’s Football club were prepared to take a huge step forward in 2020 by joining the Highland league, but because of Coronavirus all fixtures have been cancelled until further notice.
Founded in 2019, the Highlands and Islands Women’s league attracted eight teams in its debut year. These included Kirkwall City Ladies, Brora Rangers, Buckie, Caithness, Inverness Caledonian Thistle Development, Nairn, Sutherland, and 2018 champions Clachnacuddin. The team were a very enthusiastic bunch of players and were very much looking forward to the challenge.
Katie Foulis, manager of OWFC, is optimistic for the future of the sport in Orkney. She has said that they have had a great response from the younger age-group. “The younger players are very capable. You can tell they’ve been playing in the primary leagues, because they can handle the drills that the women are doing. The senior players, and us as the coaches, are very encouraging and welcoming to them, so numbers are increasing in that age-group which is fantastic.”
Whilst play may have stopped on the pitch, the coaches are very much trying to keep the game going through social media. The football team have taken part in the “toilet roll” challenge, drills, and maintain regular updates to keep the enthusiasm going for the game.
They hope that soon the lockdown will be lifted and they will get back to training, but suspect it will be another year before they will get the chance to compete at Highland league level again.
On the 31st of may the Orkney Junior Inter County headed up to take on Shetland in the fiercely contested annual competition for the Stuart Cup.
There are usually 5 events over the weekend theses are: athletics, football, hockey, netball, and swimming. There is a points system, so if you win a race you will earn more points than the person who came 2nd and in the football and netball, the winning team gets more points.
On Saturday the 1st of June there was the following events taking place: hockey at 10:00, athletics at 13:15, and Football at 19:00.
First up was the hockey taking place in Brae, a short drive away from Lerwick. In a close run affair, Shetland just pipped Orkney to win the game 2-0, a good start for Shetland.
Next up was the athletics. It was taking place at the Clickimin track. The first race was the 1500m. Orkney came 1st in the boys race, and Shetland took first in the girls.
This was followed by the javelin, where Shetland won the boys but Orkney won the girls event.
Next up was the shot putt. Orkney won both the girls and the boys.
It was the 200m up next. Orkney’s Zander Scott, a very strong runner, won the boys event. But Shetland’s equally as strong Katie Dinwoodie won the girls event, and would later go and win gold at the 2019 Island Games.
Then it was the 800m, and as expected Shetland’s Seumas Mackay (one of the best runners in his age group in Britan) won the boys event by some margin and Orkneys Tegan Spence won the girls 800m by some distance as well.
The 100m was up next with Orkney wining the boys and Shetland wining the girls.
The final track event of the day was the 400m. Orkney took gold in the girls, and Shetland took gold in the boys.
The last event of the day was the jumps. In the long jump Shetland took gold in both girls and boys, and in the long jump Orkney took gold in the boys. Shetland won the girls.
Shetland won the athletics 56-40, but Orkney put up a good fight.
After the hockey and the athletics Shetland were leading orkney 66-40, but Orkney weren’t out yet; it was still all to play for.
The last event on the Saturday was the football at the Gilbertson Park in Lerwick. Unfortunately the nice weather came to a stop as the rain started, but that didn’t scare off the big crowd gathered to watch the two strong teams battle it out. It was an evenly matched first half with Shetland scoring late on. It was 1-0 to Shetland, the boys in blue, at half time. Orkney started strong in the 2nd half. Their hard work finally paid off when they bagged an equaliser, but then it was Shetland’s turn to attack and eventually they got another goal and managed to hold on till the end. The final score at the Gilbertson Park: Shetland 2 Orkney 1. Another win for Shetland.
After the 1st day the total standings were Shetland 76 and Orkney 45. Orkney would need a miracle to win Junior Inter County 2019.
The Sunday began with the Netball at the Clickimin. Orkney dominated the first quarter and were 17-8 up, but Shetland came back strong with the halftime score at the netball: Orkney 26 Shetland 20. Orkney managed to find their form again and played some excellent netball in the 3rd quarter, and were leading 38-23. It was looking hard for Shetland to get back in it with only 1 quarter left to play. Shetland did play some better netball in the last quarter but it wasn’t enough to beat Orkney. The final score at the Clickimin: Orkney 48 Shetland 31.
Even after that cracking performance by Orkney in the netball, it was looking very likely that Shetland would win the Stuart Cup.
Last but not least was the swimming at the Clickimin pool. Orkney did some great swimming, but shetland were too strong in the end and they won the swimming 66-31.
After an action packed weekend in Shetland, the overall scores were Shetland 173 and Orkney 124. This meant that Shetland would retain the Stuart Cup for the 3rd year in a row. It was a great weekend showing just how many great athletes there are between these two islands.
Harvey Rendall, from Orkney, who took part in the event, explained: “I was a reserve which meant I went up and I would run if someone was injured, and someone was so I had to run in the 400m”
He said: “I was very nervous, but I just calmed myself down and got in the zone ready to run.”
He said that his advice for younger people wanting to one day take part in JIC is train and never give up.
Kara Grant, from Shetland, who was part of the hockey team, said that the crowd cheering them on was her favourite part of JIC.
“My advice to young people wanting to take part in JIC one day is keep doing what you enjoy, work hard, and stick at it”
Junior Inter County began in 1947. There were 3 events: football, hockey and athletics. Swimming was added in 1948, and netball was added in 1950.
The cup is named after the Shetland Chief Constable in 1947 called Tom Stuart, who contributed the trophy.
It does not look like Junior Inter County is going to stop anytime soon as it is enjoyed by everyone. Even Covid-19 cannot stop JIC, as it might be taking place in September in Orkney.
From the 24th to the 26th of April, five Orkney S2 runners competed against other Scottish athletes in a virtual fifteen minute road run to keep athletes active during lockdown.
On Saturday the 24th April, Finn did the fifteen minute run. He tactically picked a route that wasn’t too much of an uphill run, but had to be careful as the rules were quite strict. Participants had to stay within one kilometre of where they started. This meant that you could not do a point to point run, and disqualified people who only ran downhill. Another rule was that if you were doing laps of something, the laps had to be at least one kilometre. This also prevented runners choosing to run round a football pitch or field. In the end, Finn managed to find a route that met all of the rules, was close to home, and was safe. He ran 3.65km in fifteen minutes.
Finn said: ‘I think I did quite well in the run. I think I chose a good time when it was not windy, and I chose a good route that met all the rules, and was not too much of an uphill.’
He explained that he used his Garmin watch to track how far we went and to check how long he had been running.
‘I think I pushed myself as far as I could and ran quite a good distance in the space of fifteen minutes.’
This is the first time an event like this has happened. Its invention was driven by the Coronavirus and the Government’s rules on self-isolation. Usually there are a few competitions throughout spring and summer in Kirkwall, where you pick which events you want to go in before the competition starts. With the virtual fifteen-minute run, you post your distance and it shows your average pace, elevation and the route you went.
The continuation of lockdown means that organisers are likely to continue running competitions virtually, but the races will be different lengths and the routes will change.