Brora Rangers' ladies take to the high seas
There were initial doubts that the women would have enough people to take part as numbers had been low at recent training sessions.
However, having discussed it with the girls, they decided they could pull a team together – headed by Mary Stewart – if they also roped in junior players.
The coaching team knew this was going to be a tough challenge, with players as young as 11 and 12, but decided it would be a good experience for all involved.
They travelled to Orkney on Saturday to compete against five other teams – Nairn, Ross County, Caithness, Orkney, and the Orkney veterans men’s team.
Leaving Brora at 7am to make their way to the 9.30am Gills Bay ferry, for many of them this was their first time in Orkney so all looked forward to the day with great anticipation. On arrival they met up with the others at Kirkwall Grammar School. Their first game was against a very strong Ross County outfit who eventually went on to win the tournament.
While Brora were beaten, there was not a massive gulf between the teams. This was encouraging, given that Ross County were fielding their first team who play regularly together in a league.
Over the remaining games, the inexperienced Brora team continued to grow and the games were all very close.
The last game was against the unbeaten men’s team and although Brora lost, the men felt that Brora had given them the biggest challenge of the day.
Head coach Mary Stewart said: "All in all, this was a great opportunity for the ladies to enjoy a trip away and the team will definitely benefit from playing these matches.
"It has provided a great learning experience for some of the younger members of the team.
"This was the first stepping stone for us in what is going to be a regeneration of the ladies team.
"Having drafted in several youngsters and having played together for the first time as a team against those who are playing regular games, we need to be proud that we held our own in each and every one of the games."
Dale Pryde-MacDonald, head of youth development at the club, was keen to endorse the head coach.
He said: "Mary has worked incredibly hard and put in a crazy amount of hours with the ladies team over the past couple of years. Without her there would be no ladies team and she is certainly our hidden gem.
"Mary and I are now working on a pathway to get the ladies’ game more recognised in this area and build up a bigger playing squad to compete on a more regular basis.
"Thanks to the Thrift Shop, Brora, for supporting the ladies team financially, as with their support, we could afford to travel together on our own team bus which definitely added to the enjoyment of the day."