Forest Pitch scores a hit

After years of hard work, the creation of a football pitch in the middle of a forest near Selkirk, and one weather-induced postponement, the Forest Pitch matches flew by in a frenzy of spirited football and a feast of goals.

Four teams, largely consisting of new Scots, played two successive games on the temporary ground, which is the work of Edinburgh-based artist Craig Coulthard. The arts project is part of the Cultural Olympiad, running in tandem with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In the women’s game, Alison O’Neil, captain of Delphi, was impressed with her team’s 5-1 win over Corinth: “I’m very proud of my team. I thought that we came out and played a really good match.”

Despite the defeat, Corinth captain Michelle Magee said her team had still enjoyed the day.

“It’s been a really fun project to be part of. The pitch is fantastic, I loved coming through the forest,” she said.

Nemea triumphed over Olympia in the men’s match, coming out on top of a fiercely-contested game 4-3. Nemea captain Mohamad Nejib Nehab summed up his teams feelings at the final whistle: “It’s a big achievement. Especially in the second half we were under a lot of pressure. It was really exciting.”

In an echo of the Ancient Greek games, each player was crowned with a wreath of laurels. The teams were presented with trophies, which will be donated to the Scottish Football Museum.

Forest Pitch creator Craig Coulthard said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant. All four teams played fantastic games and the crowd really enjoyed the day.

“Players of every possible social background, and from all over the world, have come together in a celebration of Scottish identity and sporting passion.”

The project, which also involves a film and a book, will see the temporary pitch transformed into a “living sculpture” later this year when the white lines are planted with native trees.