A group of women in a small village on the west coast of Scotland are challenging stereotypes and defying expectations by taking up the traditional sport of shinty. Known as the Snowdrop Seniors, these women, ranging in age from their 80s and up, have recognized the physical, mental, and social benefits of engaging in this lively sport.
Heather Cameron, 89 years old, had never heard of shinty until her grandsons started playing it in high school. Intrigued by the sport, she decided to give it a try herself. Heather expresses her enjoyment of shinty, stating that “everybody can join in and it is a team game.” Another participant, Barbara Millar, an 80-year-old former nurse, highlights the inclusivity of the sport, noting that there is no judgment of people’s abilities and that everyone is encouraged to participate.
The Snowdrop Seniors’ shinty sessions are led by Laurene Cameron, a wellbeing development worker and shinty coach. Laurene hopes to organize an outdoor session in the summer, involving players from the local women’s club. She praises the women for their eagerness to learn new skills and their enthusiasm for something different to talk about with their friends and family. Laurene believes that shinty is a great activity for all age groups, as it improves hand-eye coordination, balance, and socialization skills.
The Snowdrop Seniors’ shinty initiative has garnered support from organizations like Age Scotland and Shinty Memories Scotland. Shinty Memories Scotland is a mental health project that brings together groups from various shinty-playing communities. They organize social events where participants can view archive images and videos of the sport, fostering a sense of community and reminiscence.
The Camanachd Association, the governing body of shinty, commends the Snowdrop Seniors for embracing the “spirit of shinty.” They express their delight at how the sport is uniting different generations, proving that age should not hinder one’s enjoyment of shinty. The association also acknowledges the remarkable efforts of Shinty Memories Scotland in engaging older individuals in the sport.
The story of the Snowdrop Seniors and their newfound love for shinty serves as an inspiration. It underscores the importance of staying active, both physically and mentally, regardless of age. The women’s enthusiasm and determination remind us that it is never too late to try something new and reap the benefits it brings.