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Scottish sports stars and fans launch Yes vote campaign

Scots athletes and sports fans have launched their own campaign for a Yes vote.

Sport for Yes will bring together current and former Scottish sportsmen and women and sports fans who back plans for an independent Scotland.

The group's members include boxer Alex Arthur, Judo Scotland team member Connie Ramsay and karate and Kick-boxing champion Samera Ashraf. It is headed by former Hearts captain Michael Stewart, who started his career at Manchester United and has been capped for Scotland four times.

The group also welcomed the findings of the McLeish report which have paves the way for a Scottish Olympic team at Rio 2016.

Speaking at the launch Stewart said: "'It's great to see the McLeish report published and highlighting the pathway for Scotland to join other nations on the global sporting stage. I firmly believe a Yes vote in September will lead to a huge upsurge in self-belief and confidence for our country - two crucial components in sport linked to performance and achieving your goals.

'My sport already competes as a nation in our own right and I was fortunate to pull on the dark blue strip to compete, but not everyone has had the chance. A Yes vote means more opportunity for people from all walks of life, but especially for sport."

Shona Robison MSP, cabinet secretary for Commonwealth Games, sport, equalities and pensioners' rights, said: "Sport for Yes is a new and exciting part of the grassroots Yes movement bringing together athletes, former athletes, sports men and women, and fans of sport.

"Scotland already competes as a nation in a number of sports, such as football, cricket and rugby, but with independence we can represent ourselves across all sports bringing tremendous opportunity to our athletes. It will also enable us to have our own team at the Olympics and Para Olympics, in the same way as we have Team Scotland in the

Commonwealth Games."

Boxer Alex Arthur, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and former European Boxing Union (EBU) and WBO super- featherweight champion said: "My career highlight was wining gold at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. To win that gold medal for my country and myself was definitely my greatest achievement. As an independent nation we will be competing for ourselves which brings more opportunity for our athletes to compete.

"To see one of my sons competing in the Olympics Games for Scotland would be a victory for me because it's something I was never able to achieve."

Connie Ramsay, a key member of Judo Scotland's team who is both the Scottish and UK Number One in the under 57-kg class, said: "I'd like to see Scotland as an independent country - we can definitely run our own affairs and make a better job of it ourselves.

"We see other smaller countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway and they all manage much better than the UK does, so why can't we? If everyone gets behind Scotland we can make it work, and make a better go of it. And giving more athletes in Scotland an international platform can only be a good thing."

Samera Ashraf, Scotland's top Asian sportswoman who is a karate and kick-boxing champion, said: "By voting Yes, Scotland has the opportunity to build on its sporting

abilities and have a far bigger platform.

"As an Asian woman breaking barriers in a physical contact sport, it is equally important to go one step further and support the country in gaining independence. I believe independence will be more inclusive, especially when it comes to sport and there will be a new wave of new sporting talent emerge which is an exciting prospect."

The Tartan Army rock band, the Tartan Specials, said: "The first Scotland football match as an independent country will be a special moment in our history. In many other sports it will deliver greater opportunities for a greater number of athletes. In football it will deliver too but in a more subtle way - greater self-confidence, belief and sense of belonging.

"It stands to reason - Croatia came third in the World Cup soon after gaining independence, and if we had been independent in 1978 Ally McLeod would definitely have brought home the World Cup from Argentina!"

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