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School spin for Bute cricketers

Bute County Cricket Club is to actively court pupils on the island in a bid to beef up their side for the new season. Robert MacIntyre, match secretary and former club captain, hopes to entice youngsters from the local Rothesay Academy on board.

Through links with Iain Kennedy, Team Sport Scotland co-ordinator with the Scottish Cricket Union, Bute had a thriving youth set-up last year. MacIntyre admits it needs to be restructured this year and, ahead of the club's opening fixture of the season against Innellan on Sunday, it is near the top of his agenda.

Mr MacIntyre believes that sports that tend to do well in schools are those which teachers show a preference for. "At Rothesay Academy, the emphasis is on rugby and that is why we have taken youngsters on board. Unfortunately, the player that took the youngsters at the club last year has decided to play golf, so we need to put something else in place."

Bute managed to enter a team in the Western District under-16 league last year but at present there are only a handful of young players. MacIntyre says.

"We have managed to buy a lot of equipment through local enterprise grants and we have purchased a bowling machine. We have received winter coaching grants through Team Sport Scotland and some of our better young players have attended SCU coaching days."

Playing away matches in the evening is not without problems: the last boat to the island leaves at 8pm. Against the likes of Uddingston or Cumbernauld, the team has been known to take a fishing boat on the return home from matches, such is their keenness to compete.

Bute's enthusiasm is not unique. A total of 77 primary schools, an increase of 19, took part in 10 regional tournaments leading to a national final sponsored by Wrigleys last year.

A membership scheme for young players, the Britvic Young All-rounders Club, brought a hundred new members under the age of 16 to the SCU last year.

Team Sport Scotland and the SCU have jointly run a coaching scheme and summer cup, supported by BP, for the past three years. More development groups are coming on stream in Tayside, Grampian, Lothian and Perth and Kinross and West District has secured funds to appoint a part-time development officer.

Similar appointments will be made in East and Central for three-year periods.

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