Two more posts for the Isles

When world triple-jump champion Jonathan Edwards chooses to travel to the Western Isles to train on the sands of Lewis, it might appear that Mother Nature has been bounteous in the way of sports facilities.

But such complacency is far from the thinking of the Western Isles Council, which has approved two full-time sports development posts, one in the north and one in the south, to begin from next April.

These would carry forward the work of part-time sports development officer, Donald John Smith.

The director of education and leisure services, Neil Galbraith, said: "The islands don't get any nearer to the mainland, so development officers will not solve all the problems, but there's a lot going on and in a way we're just reacting to the growth in activity."

Smith has already succeeded in encouraging volunteers and new coaches - more than 100 in football alone - and has co-ordinated in-service courses.

In addition, Team Sport Scotland has given support, with five of the co-ordinators having undertaken coach education courses in the Western Isles in the past two years.

More and better training for coaches and other volunteers is seen as crucial to development in a range of sports. The outdoor sports such as canoeing, sailing and windsurfing have seen a rapid growth.

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