Extra Time Project is paying dividends for Inverness pupils, parents/guardians and teachers

At the end of October, last year, we signed up to pilot a new Scottish Football Association initiative in the North to deliver breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and holiday camps at three targeted Inverness schools, namely Bishop Eden’s Primary, Dalneigh Primary and Merkinch Primary.

We secured funding to deliver the SFA’s first Extra Time Project in the North Area over a 6-month period ie until the end of April. We would wish to continue the project until the summer holidays.

At Dalneigh and Merkinch we are providing 9 hours each week of contact and at Bishop Eden’s, 7 hours.

The breakfast clubs run from 8-9 am and we provide activities, such as football as well as board games, before the children are served a healthy breakfast and begin their school day.

The after-school clubs run from 3-5 pm and involve a combination of physical activity, quiet zones and a healthy snack.

During the three-day February school break, we will be holding a holiday camp for pupils from the three schools at Merkinch Primary.

A total of 93 5-12 year-olds have attended a session. 86 pupils from the three schools attended our Festive Friends lunch at Caledonian Stadium on 20 December when they received goodie bags and met the ICT FC Manager and first team squad. They had a great time.

After running the sessions for three months now, we are seeing real benefits of our engagement and learning lessons as we go along – lessons that we can pass on to any other community trusts that wish to follow our lead.

The attendance at the sessions suggest the children are enjoying their time with us and we are delighted that they are eating healthy foods. One pupil stood up at school assembly to let everyone know he had, that morning at the breakfast club, eaten the “breakfast of champions” – a fresh fruit and yogurt combination!

Other benefits are that the schools are experiencing improved school attendance, with fewer turning up late. Teachers report that many pupils are more alert in class due to the structure of their start to the day at the breakfast club.

A key benefit of the scheme for parents and guardians is the child care that improves their employment opportunities by giving them more flexibility in fulfilling their work commitments, with an earlier start and a later finish.

A number of parents have also volunteered to provide additional support at the breakfast and after-school clubs and volunteered at school football coaching sessions.

A bonus of the Extra Time Project for the Community Development Team is that we have been able to employ two full members of staff including an Education Development Officer to oversee the development and implementation of the programmes as well as the ongoing delivery and evaluation. 

The creation of this role has allowed us to bridge the gap between our community engagement and our local educational establishments.

We hope to use the experiences of this pilot scheme as part of a wider scheme to make a real difference in our community. We believe the benefits will be felt across the whole household and intend to capture this data more comprehensively in the coming months.


Rhona MacCormick Head teacher at Dalneigh Primary "We are delighted to be working with ICT. The breakfast and after-school clubs are very popular with our pupils. The breakfast club is a great start to the day and pupils comment on how ready they are to learn when school starts. Teachers have also commented on the difference they see in children's readiness to  start to learn. We feel so lucky to have this opportunity."

Jillian Kean Head Teacher "Merkinch Primary School are thrilled to be working in partnership with ICT.  Our children and families benefit from a very popular free breakfast club and a growing after school club.   A healthy and encouraging start to the day has a positive impact on our children’s learning.  Not only do our children enjoy a healthy breakfast and a super end to the day, and they also learn from the positive role models who lead these activities."


Craig Masterton

Community Trust Manager

Ian Macdonald Tribute

Fond memories of Ian Macdonald – a top Highland League goalkeeper

The Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Memories Group has lost a dear friend in Ian “Dons” Macdonald, the former Clach, Caley and Forres Mechanics goalkeeper, who has died at the age of 86.  Ian was a regular attender at monthly meetings of the Group at Caledonian Stadium, readily recalling his football memories, very often with the aid of his scrapbooks.

Born in December 1937, Ian grew up in the Ballifeary area of Inverness and attended Central Primary School and Inverness High School, where he excelled at football, firstly as a left back before focusing on goalkeeping.

His performances at school, boys brigade and juvenile level won him a move to Clachnacuddin before Inverness rivals Caledonian, stepped in to win his signature.   Ian took part in Caley’s pre/season visit to Norway in 1959 before winning a Scottish North Qualifying Cup medal in 1961 in a victory over Peterhead.

Ian’s next move was to Forres Mechanics where he was in goal when the Mosset Park club won the Scottish Qualifying Cup North in 1963-64 for the first time in the club’s history with an 8-4 aggregate win over two legs over Buckie Thistle. As a result of the success, Forres qualified to play in the Scottish Cup and drew a money-spinning first round home tie against a star-studded Dundee side, which included Scottish internationalists, Alex Hamilton, Alan Gilzean and Andy Penman.  Dundee won 6-3 but it was a great day for the “Can Cans” and a real highlight of Ian’s football career.

Ian, who represented the North FA, went on to win a North of Scotland Cup winners’ medal with Forres  in 1966-67 when they beat Ross County 3-0 at Telford Street Park Inverness. 

His career with the Pearl Assurance Company took him to Stornoway, Banff and Dingwall before he returned to Inverness to end his career as District Manager.

While based in Banff, Ian served as manager of Deveronvale FC between 1970-73,  overseeing the transfer of Des Bremner to Hibernian.  While in Dingwall, Ian helped run Dingwall Thistle.

He  was married to Karen for 63 years and has four sons, Ian, Colin, Ewen and Neil and a daughter Fiona. 

Annual Report

2023 Reports

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2022 Reports

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News & Updates

Delivering Coaching To Record Numbers

Record numbers of children are attending summer programmes organised by Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s Community Trust, including those who are benefiting from free courses and meals to combat the cost of living pressures.

Community Development Manager, Craig Masterton, is thrilled at the response to the camps organised by his team in Inverness as well as in Aviemore, Cromarty, Farr, Fort William, Nairn, Tain and Thurso.

Over the summer holidays, the team:

  • Welcomed 1,317 participants at 17 venues;
  • Provided 160 hours of football coaching free of charge and
  • Provided 1,460 free meals and
  • Gained a 99.2 per cent enjoyment rate from those who responded to an end-of-course survey, with parents believing the activities were reasonably priced; the coaches engaged well with their child and courses were accessible to find and attend.

Craig said: “It truly has been a fantastic summer programme for us in 2023.  Not only blowing previous participant records out of the water but hearing from families about the incredibly positive impact our camps have on all who take part.  The comments we receive highlight the positive impacts the courses have on children in motivating them and helping them meet new friends in a safe environment.  It shows the vital role we play, using football to engage across the community.”

Craig said the Trust was able to provide free coaching and free meals in targeted communities thanks to funding during the cost of living crisis from the Bank of Scotland Foundation as well as the Scottish Football Association’s Cash Back for Communities Fund and Scottish Gas.

He added: “To be able to provide an opportunity to so many deserving young children, whose exposure to activity and sport due to barriers of cost and logistics would have been limited, is a key pillar of our work in the community.  The positive feedback further encourages us to expand our work in the future.”

As well as providing summer programmes across the Highlands, the Community Development Team organised a camp between 9 am and 3 pm during the recent three-day closure of schools due to strike action, with full attendances of 112 each day.  This was run through donations only as a thank you to parents who had supported the summer camps and in recognition of the help needed by parents and guardians in coping with the disruption of the closures.    Over the past year, the team has also made a total of 47 school visits to deliver education through football.  

They also deliver weekly para football coaching sessions and have recently attracted funding to resume sending a squad to take part in monthly para events in Stirling.

Also popular are the weekly walking football sessions held at the Highland Rugby Club all weather pitch at the Bught Park and the growingly popular monthly football memories meetings at the Caledonian Stadium on the last Friday of each month.

The Trust recently won the SFA’s Regional Grass Routes Award for the best “Football For All” project, which is sponsored by McDonalds and the Daily Mail, for the walking football project. 

ICT Community Trust is the bridge between Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club and the community, being a charitable trust run by a board of directors and a team of Community Development coaches. 

A major project being undertaken by the Trust, in conjunction with the football club, is the creation of a Community Hub on a 10-acre site at Inverness Royal Academy Playing Fields, where the team will be based to deliver  coaching to all sections of the community.

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