Women's shinty is a sport, played almost entirely within Scotland, identical to the men's game – with the same rules, same sized pitch and same equipment. However, its history is significantly different. Social pressures – along with the broader game's self-image – resulted in a largely hidden history until comparatively recently.
It is administered by the Women's Camanachd Association (Camanachd nam Ban)
Women would have traditionally played shinty, but would not have been able to compete in games such as Iomain Challainn, the new year shinty matches which were a tradition across the Scottish Highlands. Women would have been restricted to providing the refreshments off the pitch.
However, in the mid-1990s there was a movement ot create some form of competitive opportunities for women, influenced by the fact that many girls would be able to play shinty at Primary School level, and indeed under-14 level but would, for whatever reason unable to play at senior-adult level.
In the 1990s, teams from Glengarry, Oban and Dunaad were beginning to play each other, this resulted in the Women's Camanachd Association being set up in 2001 to run the league and cup system discretely from the men's game.
In the modern era, Glengarry have been the dominant force in the game. As the one main club in the North of Scotland for a long time, they were able to assemble squads from across the area which could match up to the strong sides being put together by GMA, Tir Chonnaill Harps and Edinburgh University/Forth.
However, with clubs springing up in Strathglass, Lochaber, Badenoch and Strathspey, Skye and Lovat, it remains to be seen whether the Garry can continue to attract the very best players.
The leagues in recent years have been restricted by the fact that the player base for women's shinty is still quite small and many clubs are mismatched. With Badenoch and Strathspey stepping back up to National league level this should provide a stronger competition at the top.
Dunaad, Glengarry and Oban Camancheroes made up the first league. The league has now expanded to cover most of the major shinty playing areas. As of 2012, these will be known as the Marine Harvest Leagues.
- National League One (Five teams) - A national league, with teams of 10 a-side
- North Division Two (Six teams) - Based on the traditional North District, this is an 8 a-side league
- South Division Two (Six teams) - Based on the traditional South District, this is an 8 a-side league
- National High School Leagues (Varying numbers) - With a league in the North and a league in the South, this competition has been running since 2009 under the auspices of the WCA. There is also the Donella Crawford Six-A-Sides which are run by the Schools Camanachd Association, the scheduling of this competition has been a bone of contention between the two associations.
- Valerie Fraser Trophy - The equivalent of the Camanachd Cup for the women's game. However a club need only win two games to win it. In order to increase the amount of teams competing, Diision Two teams were permitted entry in 2012. It has been sponsored by Peter Gow of Inverness for several years.
- Challenge Cup - A cup for Division Two and reserve sides. Originally the Caledonian Canal sponsored this tournament, but it will be the Marine Harvest Cup from 2012.
Representative & international
There are North and South representative games at senior and U-18 level. These are usually 12 a-side. There are also international compromise rules games against camogie teams. In recent years the gap with the Irish Camogie sides has been too great and so the Scotland national side now usually face British Universities GAA.