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‘You have a home’ after historic decision as Highland Council’s ‘historic’ decision paves the way for school playgrounds next to the Royal Academy in Inverness to become mecca of women’s play in the north

The IRA grounds will become the hub of women’s football in the north.

The result of two years of work to massively advance women’s football in the north was finally decided in extra time and under 90 seconds at Highland Council on Thursday.

The local authority has approved a transfer of community assets from the playgrounds next to Inverness Royal Academy to the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Development Trust.

The club and the trust want to transform the grounds into a state-of-the-art base, not only for women’s and women’s football, but also for youth and para teams as well as Inverness Athletic.

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How did it go for those involved? Unabashedly ’emotional’ has been the response from within the club as women, girls and para footballers who play and work for the pure love of the game will now have the facilities they deserve.

The club’s chief executive, Scot Gardiner, watched the board meeting live from the stadium with sporting director John Robertson and upon hearing the outcome, the couple shook hands.

“You have a house”

Mr Gardiner phoned the chairman to let him know, but he intended to deliver the news to those who wanted to hear it most and he drove through Inverness to where the women’s team stood was leading.

He picks up the story: “I watched the board meeting at the stadium with John Robertson and when we had the decision we immediately shook hands and then I got in my car, phoned the chairman. to give him the news and I left for the fields where I knew the women’s team was training.

“When I got to the pitches, I walked onto the pitch towards Karen Mason, she whistled and said ‘I’m afraid to ask’ and I just said to her, ‘You have a house.’

“It’s emotional for us, it was a lot of work but it will make a difference for generations of female footballers and girls. I also phoned the chairman of Inverness Athletic and he was almost in tears.

“It will create a legacy for football in the Highlands.”

The consensus within the football community around Inverness Caledonian Thistle is that the decision to agree to lease playing grounds for a period of 25 years for a nominal fee – likely £1 a year – will be a game changer. era.


Mr Gardiner said the ‘historic’ project will not only make a difference for women and girls, but also for youth and para teams as well as Inverness Athletic and something of £1-2million sterling will be invested.

He said: “The positive impact this decision will have on our community, for our Trust, our own Academy, Royal Academy pupils and in particular, for our women’s and women’s game cannot be overstated.

“This is going to be a major pillar of club football’s community-centric approach going forward and I am very grateful to have a chairman and board at the club who share this vision.

“I watched the Highland Council decision live here at the stadium last night and if it was tense and emotional it was nothing compared to going to the Royal Academy immediately afterwards to tell Karen Mason that the ‘ICTWFC now had its own home and then announcing to some of our Academy and Trust coaches the fantastic news on the next pitch.

“So much hard work has gone into the past two years to get to this point and the support and encouragement we have received from the city and surrounding area has been inspiring.”

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