An Invergordon primary school teacher is hoping his contributions to youth football will help him nab the coveted Primary Teacher of the Year prize at the Highland Heroes Awards at the start of next month.
Iain Maciver from Park Primary started running school football tournaments in 2015, and what began as a 16-team event has evolved into Highland-wide competitions, with 75 schools and over 750 children taking part every year.
He told YFS: “I first decided to start football tournaments as there was no school football in Ross-Shire and hadn't been for a number of years.
“It started off as an idea but has grown to be a series of huge tournaments which involve 750 children a year and has built huge community support.”
Iain's original tournament now attracts 30 schools and has over 300 children participating.
But he hasn’t stopped there.
Building on the success of his primary tournaments, in 2017 Iain launched a girls-only competition in Ross-Shire:
“In terms of the girls, there was previously no football for them to play in the area,” he explained. “Many of them had shown interest and even though the large school football tournaments I started were for boys and girls the teams were made up almost exclusively of boys.
“Of the 300 children who attended these tournaments you would be lucky if there were even five girls there.
“In effect, the girls were excluded from taking part as not many were able to get into the school teams against the boys.”
And whilst only seven schools were involved last year, 2018 has seen primary girls’ football really take-off up north – in no small part thanks to the efforts of Iain.
20 schools and over 200 girls took part in this years Ross-Shire event, with a further 20 schools and 250 girls taking part in a Highland tournament that was also organised by Iain.
He said: “In the first year we only had seven schools enter as nowhere did girls football or had even considered having a team – a small number put one together for the day.
“But it was well publicised in the local press and had a great knock-on effect with schools starting girls training and teams with the view to joining in the future.
“Since last year’s tournament I have been contacted by even more people saying they have started weekly girl’s football and local girls football clubs; it’s taken off massively.”
Now, his dedication has been recognised with a Highland Heroes Primary Teacher of the Year nomination; an award for a teacher who has gone above and beyond to enhance the learning experience of their pupils.
Voting is open until October 28, and if you’d like to support Iain then you can do so by visiting: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HeroesVote2018