Pleasure Island

Let’s not beat around the bush here.  Major tournaments are invariably a let down.  Whether it be the World Cup, Olympics or PDC Premier League Darts Play Offs, the expectation and anticipation often outweigh the actual event.  But what if you go into a tournament with your expectations of quality low?  What if the organisers do everything in their power to organise the tournament around the spectators?  What if the organising committee virtually give tickets away free?  And what if it was on your doorstep?  Surely the best day in the year bar a visit from Saint Nicklas?

I pondered these questions as I stood on the deck of the boat, watching the coast of Southern England slip away under the tide and the seagulls.  I was the luckiest man alive.  Whilst others would be having a lay in, reading the sunday papers and thinking about whether to wash the car or cut the grass, I was going to the one of the biggest football tournaments being played.  Yes, the CONCACAF Cup may have the glitz and showbiz that only the US could provide, and yes the Under17’s World Cup in Mexico, and yes the Woman’s World Cup was due to start in a few hours (featuring the German team who made THAT video).  But could they really compete with the 14th International Island Games on the Isle of Wight. WOOF! Continue reading

Is this possibly the best day of football ever?

On Sunday 26th June 2011 a remarkable event will take place, one that is sure to get all football groundhoppers literally reaching for their plastic programme wallets with excitement like it has never been seen before.  On this historic day the football tournament in the 14th Island Games on the Isle of Wight will start.  Not just start but shoot into space with a total of 13 games being played in 7 venues on one day.  God said rest on the seventh day and what better way to rest than to race around a small island watching the likes of the Falkland Islands, Greenland and Rhodes play our beautiful game.

The International Island Games were founded in the Isle of Man in 1985 and today include 25 member islands in, or associated with, the nine sovereign nations of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK, plus the Caribbean.  The Islands come together every two years to compete in friendly competition in a range of up to 14 sports chosen by the host Island from an approved list of 18.  One such sport this year is football, meaning that the best international tournament to be played this year will be taking place a mile or so off the south coast of England in the Isle of Wight.

Marienhamn sports complex

The last games were held in 2009 in Åland, close to the Finnish coast.  Twenty five islands took part in fourteen events, with the football taking pride and place with sixteen nation playing in the main stadium in Mariehamn.  Overall the Faroe Islands won the most Golds (34) but due to their affiliation with FIFA they were not allowed to play in the football tournament which was won by Jersey who beat the hosts 2-1 in the final

And who will be there this time around(apart from me, of course)?  Well how about the heavyweights of international football Frøya, the silky skills of the men from Hitra or the passionate support from Prince Edward Islands.  In fact out of the 25 competing nations I have never heard of nearly half of them.  For your information Frøya and Hitra are neighbouring islands situated off the coast of Central Norway, Hitra is closest to the mainland , whilst Frøya is the outermost one facing the North Atlantic. Hitra is now connected to the mainland by the world’s deepest underwater tunnel, 264m under sea level. Prince Edward Island on the other hand has the distinction of being the smallest political unit in one of the world’s largest countries, Canada. “The Island,” as it is known affectionately by its inhabitants, is situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off the Atlantic coast of North America. At 46° North latitude, it is about half-way between the Equator and the North Pole. The Falkland Islands had come from literally the other end of the earth, whilst my Danish cousins were represented with teams from Greenland and the Faroes respectively.  Who wouldn’t want to see The Falklands take on Alderney? Continue reading