Showing posts from January, 2018

Tournament Report - Highland Senior Badminton Championships, April 2016

As the cool April evening kissed the shores of the Moray Firth close to the Black Isle Leisure Centre in gentle Fortrose, Caithness raiders once again escaped with trophies and medals from the North’s Senior Badminton Championship. A competitive but friendly atmosphere suffused the Ross-shire village, while shuttlecocks whizzed and curled about throughout a busy weekend for this prestigious end-of-season tournament.

 With national ranking points at stake, entrants came from far and wide; and once again it was Caithness players who showed a clean pair of trainers to the rest. The powerful play of Glasgow’s Sid Singh complemented the superb accuracy and fitness of Edinburgh University’s Wilgene Tan to wrest the Men’s Doubles crown, but otherwise it was Caithness all the way, with Mark MacKay, Shona MacKay, Martyn Cook, John Durrand, Iain Nicolson, Carole Begg and Ashley MacBeath who prevailed with top hon…

Minority Languages in a digital context - Slideshare presentation on current research (in Gàidhlig)

Katie Gregson-MacLeod, FilmG Gaelic Short Film entry 2018 'An Stad Ceàrr' ('The Wrong Stop')

Paul Bell heralds new dawn in the North - Report for Squash Mad website on the appointment of Paul Bell as Scottish Squash National Coach

By MIKE GREGSON – Squash Mad Scottish Correspondent
These are heady days for Scottish Squash. As teams gather for the World Doubles in Darwin – including two Scots men’s pairs – there is optimism in the air. A breakthrough Men’s European Team Bronze, and a young Women’s Team gaining promotion from European Division Three, have highlighted a sea-change at Heriot-Watt University’s Centre for Sport and Exercise, where operations are led by National Coach Paul Bell.
Paul’s recent appointment, and that of Martin Heath as Elite Performance Coach, represent major positive steps for an organisation which has struggled to build on the high performance levels achieved by Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban on the PSA tour, and to attain the heights of the Peter Nicol-Martin Heath era.
Paul’s credentials, as a Level 4 Coach, who has worked in the England Squash Performance system and as Assistant National Coach at Irish Squash, are impeccable. But he is at pains to emphasise: “This is not a dictatorship. I …

Squash Tournament Report, September 2016

Aberdeen Squash Racquets Club – September 24th/ 25th – Men’s PSA Satellite Event and Ladies Open

Markers set down, left, right and centre

It was a wise sporting icon who told us, “Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” With this in mind, the weekend’s smorgasbord of excellent squash at Aberdeen Squash Raquets Club offered up age-free displays of skill and commitment. The progressive chiefs at Scottish Squash accorded the event PSA Satellite status, and the initiative was rewarded with a strong turnout of Scotland’s best Men and Women. By the time proceedings concluded, Kevin Moran had triumphed in the PSA event, and 15-year-old Georgia Adderley romped home to win the Ladies Open.

Given the entry in the Men’s event, it was no surprise that every point was contested from the start. To win, Kevin had to see off a series of battling opponents – Michael Ross, Jack Orr, Stuart George (11-7,11-8,11-6) and Rory Stewart (11-7,11-7,11-6). The level of play tested…

Scottish Junior Open Squash, Edinburgh, January 2017 - Preview piece for Scottish Squash

January 2017. Not far away. Just when the good folk of Edinburgh were planning to tidy up after the revels of Hogmanay, comes news of another invasion.

Not the Jacobites, this time, with their claymores and uisge-beatha, but an army of young Squash players from around the world. 140 of them, descending, from 7th-9th January, on Edinburgh Sports Club and The Grange Sports Club, for the 2017 Scottish Junior Open Squash Championships.
The event comes as Scottish Squash enjoys a new dawn, signalled by its recent Gala Awards Evening. So it is appropriate that this 71st SJO boasts not one, but two new venues, as well as new sponsors, Eye Rackets and JC Lindsay.
Squash has had a big boost from Rochester University’s study showing its benefits, in terms of healthy heart, reduced blood pressure and positive mental health. In Scotland, the international success of Dougie Kempsell, Kevin Moran, Alan Clyne and Greg Lobban, shows things are heading in …

Response to National Gaelic Language Plan Consultation, May 2017

(Le leisgeulan son Gàidhlig lag san fharsaingeachd) Ceist 1 - Tha cumadh a’ Phlana a’ gabhail a-steach amas, cuspairean, prìomh raointean agus gealltanasan. A bheil beachd agaibh air cumadh a’ Phlana agus air an àrd-amas againn?     Tha cumadh a’ Phlana freagarrach agus practaigeach. Tha an taisbeanadh nas soilleire agus nas fhasa ri leantainn na am fear roimhe. Ach, is cinnteach gur urrainn dhuibh pìosan a chur bho na cròileagain, sgoiltean-àraich, bun-sgoiltean is àrd-sgoiltean - ealain, bàrdachd agus sgrìobhadh eile, am measg nan duilleagan tioram, nach urrainn? Tha sgrìobhainn a’ Phlana seo na shanas airson na buannachd a’ chànain.
Ceist 2 - Tha sinn dhen bheachd gu bheil e riatanach gum bi deagh ìomhaigh aig a’ Ghàidhlig agus gum bi na raointean shuas a’ cur gu mòr ri sin. A bheil beachdan agaibh fhèin air na raointean a thagh sinn no càil eile co-cheangailte ris a’ chuspair seo?     Tha seo raoin deatamach: tha mòran a’ saoilsinn gu bheil an suidheachadh fortanach son luchd-lab…

'Beach Bums' (August 2017 piece from 'The Scottish Review')

I may well qualify as what one tweeter called 'a snobby bastard', after being more disgusted than delighted by teenage drunken excesses on Troon beach last month; but where else is there to go? The lovely towns of the Ayrshire coast are long inured to summer invasions; but this one surely set a new low. What happened at Troon places that genteel resort reluctantly alongside assorted Mediterranean venues, which regularly suffer young Brits' alcohol-fuelled stag/hen/'party' culture.
One-off? Hardly. This was simply a concentrated, summer day, steroid-fuelled version of what constitutes many young people's leisure time in our towns and cities. Hardly the Decameron, but nor is it a version of enjoyment recognisable to earlier generations who had less disposable income and less free time. And, without being unduly po-faced, I would suggest that perhaps we should avoid the usual benign neglect of the situation. For this is very much a situation: and it's about w…

'Wet Desert' no more? (2014 piece)

25 years ago the Highland Green Party published its ‘Rural Manifesto for the Highlands’. It indicted the Highlands as a degraded environment, “a wet desert”, not fit for purpose in social, economic or ecological sustainability. The Manifesto explored a common history, in which both natural environment and human population had been mistreated. It made proposals in forestry, crofting, agriculture and energy policy in rural regeneration, urging independence and stewardship. With complementary land value taxation and social policies, the Manifesto was visionary. It was presented to major public bodies, gaining a positive reception. It went with the grain of progressive opinion; elsewhere, a predictably sniffy response showed its challenge to the establishment. The ‘Rural Manifesto for the Highlands’ transcended its immediate context, in a Britain still to grasp sustainability. As one of the authors reading it now, I am struck by its central diagnosis of land ownership as the key: “The rur…

'Scotland the Brand' and Education policy (2016)

Scotland the brand is all around. In these heady days, terms such as 'the Scottish people' and 'Scottishness' are bandied about like drams at a Burns Supper. No-one expects politicians to be precise with their language, but surely educationalists have a responsibility to give our children an understanding of what it means to be Scots – what a rich and various culture they're inheriting. So why is Gaelic Scotland at times treated as second-class? Why are no Gaelic writers on the set text list for National 5 English? 'Second-class'? That may appear an absurd accusation. Online, in broadcast media, in support for Gaelic Medium Education (GME), the national landscape since the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 has palpably changed. There has been visible progress: an (achievable) target of 800 P1 pupils in GME by 2017; the splendidly internationalist, dynamic BBC Alba; and Gaelic’s greater profile, as in Disney-Pixar’s 'Brave' (Julie Fowlis et al), a…