NatWest Island Games 2013
I am fortunate to get readers from all over the world, particularly Addicks in far flung places, but two of my favourite comments in all the time I have been doing this were on a post I wrote for the Island Games two years ago.
First of all Isle of Wight Blogger and Charlton fan Wighteye left a comment followed later in the day by Shetlander Addick Sam. Other writers of Blogs will tell you that there is nothing more reassuring than people leaving comments, and I get markedly excited when they are from overseas Charlton fans. Yes, the Isle of White and Shetland Isles are across the sea.
Anyway, the reason I raised this is that tomorrow here in Bermuda the XV Island Games begin. 2,200 athletes from 24 member nations will take part in 17 different sports held across the island over the next week kicking off tomorrow night with the Opening Ceremony at the National Stadium.
There are 144 gold medals at stake, and Bermuda should vastly improve on the measly 3 they won at the last Island Games on the Isle of Wight. Guernsey headed that medal table two years ago well clear of Isle of Man and then Jersey.
The International Island Games was founded in the Isle of Man in 1985 with 15 islands taking part including Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. Sadly they no longer seem involved and today’s 24 member islands are part of, or associated with, the 9 sovereign nations of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK, plus a couple in the Caribbean region.
The largest island in landmass is Greenland, but the most populus is the Isle of Wight (138,400) with Sark in the Channel Islands being the smallest (600).
Disappointingly for the Sark team that was so successful in the IoW (3 medals) they have decided not to send a team to Bermuda because the two events they claimed medals in 2011 are either not being played (archery) or the disciplines are different (clay shooting). It is the host nation’s prerogative to select the sports contested amongst a list of 20, and the variations within them.
Other islands have also cut back on their numbers solely because of the cost of getting here, and I see that it is the team sports, understandably, that have mostly been affected. For example there are only 4 teams in the men’s football competition and just 3 in the women’s.
All of the previous 14 Island games have been held in Europe and this is the first ever one to take place outside of the continent. To help with the costs whilst on island the athletes have all been billited with local and ex-pat families and every attempt has been made to sponsor as much of the cost as possible, although the government last weekend stumped up another $1m to shore up the funding.
The island is very privileged though to be selected to host the event and will welcome probably with friends, families, the odd supporter plus around 60 media around 3,000 people to this beautiful dot in the mid-Atlantic. Perhaps nowhere near as many that pile of a single cruise ship on a daily basis but a far more healthy, fitter and active visitor!
Bermuda first entered in 2003 and their best haul of gold medals was in the Sheltands in 2005 when they won 16. The sweltering heat here has to give the Bermudian’s an advantage particularly over the Northern Europeans, although the teams of Rhodes, Menorca, Gibraltar and the Caymans should be less fazed by the humidity.
The events are being held island-wide, which is great, but frankly a logistical nightmare, in 16 different locations and they start in earnest on Saturday with the volleyball.
I am back on the island on Monday night and plan to get to see some of the fun
Just to reassure you that you’re still being read in Shetland. As you rightly mention the cost of travel has meant fewer competitors attending the games this year (even travelling to the Valley from Shetland for a single game is more expensive than a season ticket) but we’re still hoping for a few medals along the way even though there is no football team to emulate the gold medal winning glory of 2005. I’m also hoping for some positive news on the transfer front, but then it wouldn’t be Charlton if we didn’t leave everything to the last minute.