ABERDOUR Shinty Club is celebrating a cash boost after bagging a top prize of £2,500 from supermarket chain Aldi.

A total of 15 sports clubs across Fife, Dundee, Angus, and Perth and Kinross have benefitted from a share of more than £10,000 from the German firm as part of its Scottish Sport Fund.

The initiative, which began in 2016, aims to help people of all ages take part in physical activity within their local communities by giving clubs the chance to secure funding to put towards a range of purposes, including new strips and equipment.

The club, which was established in 2001 by lead coach Lisa MacColl, were presented with the region's biggest share and have used the money to buy new helmets and sticks for its burgeoning youth and women's sections.

Although they have had to stop training due to current restrictions, numbers attending training last year increased markedly, and Lisa said: "It came at a really crucial time.

"Obviously, everyone's suffering with some of the effects of COVID, but we opened in August, September and saw our numbers at primary school level double.

"Every week, we had one or two new kids coming along for pretty much the whole term so, for us, it's been really great to see. I think for coaches, when they've been off for a while, everyone's been, 'I've not coached for a while, how's it going to be?', but I think it was really good because it gave everyone a boost to know that what we were doing was the right thing, and that there was the demand there.

"It was a huge boost so when I saw the fund come up, I applied for it because, even before COVID, our little development group – who are nursery to Primary three – had been growing hugely before COVID, and obviously our women's and girls' section.

"I applied because we were faced with a lack of sticks and helmets when we came back with just such an increased demand. I thought we'd maybe just get £500, so when we found out that we'd actually got the regional top award, I was absolutely delighted.

"We're indebted to Aldi and really grateful for the support; for us, it means so much. I suppose we are a biggish club but we're a relatively small, minority sport in Fife.

"Something like that means we can kit all the kids out in helmets when they come along and that we're not scrabbling about trying to recall old ones from people who have left or old, tatty ones that have been well worn, and a bunch of sticks as well."

Aldi's Scottish Sport Fund has helped more than 450 clubs across the country benefit from grants of more than £240,000 since its launch and received more than 100 applications for its latest round of funding from across Fife, Dundee, Angus, and Perth and Kinross.

Richard Holloway, regional managing director for Aldi Scotland, added: "2020 was a challenging year for grassroots sport with many clubs facing a reduction in member fees and restrictions on training during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's fantastic to see the difference the funding can make to organisations such as Aberdour Shinty Club and in turn helping them to support members lead a healthier, happier life."

Aldi’s Scottish Sport Fund will return for 2021, with applications opening in spring. For more information, visit www.aldi.co.uk/scottishsportfund.