Increasing diversity in Highland Games 'not financially motivated'

Diversity in Highland Games not financially motivated say officials

Organisers are hoping to attract more female competitors

Friday, May 10, 2019

Highland Games officials have announced they will create further opportunities for female athletes, and refuted claims the move is financially motivated.

The announcement came after campaigners and politicians put pressure on The Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA) to diversify the 60 different individual events run by volunteers.

The decision was made on Sunday, following a discussion with Event Scotland, which could provide up to 25 per cent of funding.

SGHA secretary, Ian Grieves, who has been involved in the Highland Games in St Andrews for 50 years, rejected suggestions the decision to diversify was motivated by a need for funding.

He said: “We’ve never had government funding and we have never applied for it.

“We wouldn’t want a ‘modern’ Highland Games; it is keeping them as they are, because a lot of spectators want to see them how they were hundreds of years ago."

The 69-year-old Highland Games veteran added: “We are not ‘caving in’. It is evolving.”

The diversifying of the games could include handicapping, having separate competitions for women, and having prizes and points for the first three competitors of both sexes.

Mr Grieves said: “If it’s a single event, the first three males will win prizes and points, and the first three females will win prizes and points.

“It’s hoped that might attract more female athletes.”

Scottish Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, Rhoda Grant, said she was happy the event organisers had decided to "join the rest of us in the 21st century".

“Obviously it is disappointing that it took this long for them to get to this point," she added.

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