What a momentous year for Scottish sport.
In the absence of a major Games – there are three coming up in quick succession in 2018 – the year 2017 was all about strengthening the world class sporting system that offers everyone in Scotland the chance to participate and progress.
There were new buildings to tour, new faces to welcome, new audiences to connect with and new challenges to overcome. And every day, in every community across Scotland, dedicated people gave their time and energy to promoting the value of sport in society.
Here we take you through the highlights of 2017 through the headlines of Sport First.
An even split
As the national agency for sport, sportscotland is committed to being a champion of equalities and inclusion and in February 2017 the appointment of five new board members enabled the agency to meet the Scottish Government’s 50/50 by 2020 pledge three years early. The new arrivals came after a highly successful social media recruitment drive, #GetOnBoard, which resulted in 134 applications.
Level playing field
One of the standout sporting achievements of 2016 was the Scotland women’s football team qualifying for their first major tournament and we were delighted to support their Euro 2017 finals quest. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, welcomed a partnership that enabled the players to train full-time in the build-up to the summer trip to the Netherlands.
In our schools and in community clubs across Scotland, participation in sport is on the up, according to figures released in August 2017. The number of participant sessions in sportscotland’s Active Schools programme has grown by 52 per cent over the last five years, and the Community Sport Hubs initiative has seen an increase in members throughout Scotland from 16,163 to 149,803 with a growth in hubs from 57 to 179 in the same five-year period.
Scotland’s first dedicated curling academy was officially opened as the Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell MSP, threw the first stone. The world class National Curling Academy in Stirling will allow Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes as well as development teams and community players to have year-round access to high-quality ice training.
First of its kind
An even bigger sports facilities announcement followed hard on the heels of that news as the First Minister joined Paralympians, Commonwealth Games athletes and local schools to celebrate the official opening of the sportscotland Inverclyde National Sports Training Centre in Largs. A £12million redevelopment has created a world class residential sports training centre designed with inclusivity at its heart, making it the first of its kind in the UK.
Tennis in Scotland continued to ride on the crest of a wave with Andy Murray, Jamie Murray and Gordon Reid all reaching the top of their respective rankings in singles, doubles, and wheelchair singles in the summer. The feel-good factor was maintained with local communities, local authorities, tennis clubs and businesses invited to register their interest to benefit from the LTA, Tennis Scotland and sportscotland’s £15m joint fund that aims to transform Scottish indoor tennis.
Gold for Park School
Park School became the first of two Additional Support Needs (ASN) schools to achieve the prestigious Gold sportscotland School Sport Award for innovation and achievement in delivering physical education, physical activity and sport.
The increased use of social media across all sectors of society enabled us to connect with new audiences throughout 2017, and these were three of the campaigns that proved popular:
Children’s safety and wellbeing in sport are being further strengthened with the introduction of a new approach developed by sportscotland and Children 1st which is rights-based and child-centred. Minister Aileen Campbell said: "Children’s safety and wellbeing of children is a top priority, and we all have a duty to protect them and raise concerns when necessary.”
The end of the year always brings an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the people whose endeavour, ambition, dedication and passion are the cornerstone of Scotland’s world class sporting system.
The final countdown
The new year is almost upon us and 2018 is going to be an incredibly busy year for Scots competing on the world stage, everywhere from Gold Coast to Glasgow. The sportscotland institute of sport will have an army of experts supporting athletes at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics and the Commonwealth Games next spring.