Lying in the English Channel – closer to France than England – is Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands and arguably most notable, in a sporting sense, for producing former Southampton FC legend Matt Le Tissier, and more recently tennis star Heather Watson.
We caught up with Isla Wright who will be travelling to Gibraltar 2019 to cover Team Guernsey.
KUDOS: What’s your role with Team Guernsey?
Isla Wright: I do the media stuff – so when I’m out in Gibraltar I’ll be updating our website and all of our social media stuff, to try and keep people across what’s going on. The media in Guernsey is really good so we’ll be providing great coverage of what’s going on in Gibraltar, and getting the inside track on the team. So that’s more or less what I do – although this year I’ve also been responsible for organising the kit…which was a bit scary!
Why was that scary?!
Well it’s a lot of responsibility when you’re ordering for about 200 people and you’ve got to make sure everything is right! You guys have been brilliant though and made life very easy.
That’s good to hear! Our perception is that, in terms of exposure, the Island Games is growing all the time – is that right?
Oh yeah – I think now with social media it’s so much easier, and it’s also much easier for teams and the various sports to promote themselves. I noticed in Gotland last time that quite a few of the sports were streaming their own matches on Facebook because they have the facility to. All the venues have really good Wi-Fi now, which I think is a pre-requisite for the Games. From my point of view it’d be nice to be able to do that for the Guernsey Island Games Association (GIGA) but obviously I can’t be in all of those places at once, so it’s lovely that the sports can all do that for themselves, so everyone back home can see how the team is getting on.
As one of the largest teams, will Guernsey be represented in all 14 sports?
This year we’re represented in all bar ten pin bowling. In fact some of our volleyballers have changed to beach volleyball, because volleyball isn’t featured in the Games this time. They’ve been training really hard to make the switch.
Apart from the Commonwealth Games, in which Guernsey competes, this must be the highest level of competition for many of your athletes?
For a lot of the sports, absolutely. Guernsey actually does pretty well for itself in quite a lot of sports, but yeah this is very high level as far as the majority of our sports are concerned. It’s a real honour for our athletes to be chosen in their sports, and when we’re all gathered together at things like the opening ceremony, it’s really apparent that there’s a special sort of camaraderie.
Actually as part of the opening ceremony there’s a really lovely ‘water ceremony’. Each host island does it kind of differently, but each of the islands will collect some of their own water, bring it with them for a water feature / fountain type thing and all the water is poured in and it’s all mixed together…so it’s very symbolic.
That’s lovely. Is it difficult to figure out expectations due to not knowing much about your opponents?
In some of the sports but not all. For instance, our flag bearer – Nicky – is a pistol shooter and she knows the ‘shooting family’ very well, and in that sport she’ll be up against people she sees all the time…whereas others won’t know who they’re gonna face. Quite often we’ll find, in maybe the round robin part of the basketball for example, Guernsey come up against Jersey! We often seem to face each other. They’re our most well-known opponents as we compete against them fairly regularly.
Fair to say they’d be your closest rivals then. A bitter rivalry?!
Haha, I don’t think so! There’s a really strong island rivalry there, though. If anyone was to pick on either of us we’d spring to each other’s defence – but we do enjoy facing ‘the old enemy’, as it were!
In all seriousness though the Island Games does seem like a particularly convivial event to be involved in…
Yeah, absolutely. What’s really nice is all the islands have these pin badges, and they become almost sort of a currency on the island when you’re over there, with everyone trying to swap and collect the other islands’ pin badge. It’s really friendly and supportive – and as soon as your event is over everyone gets out to support all the other team members. There are always loads of really good stories developing, and yeah there are lots of friendships made.
It’s striking what a team effort the Games is…
Absolutely it is. For us our sponsors have been key to making it all happen. Utmost Worldwide sponsor our kit and they’re great supporters of us and have been involved with sponsoring our team for a number of years now. We couldn’t do it without them, really. They also support a type of bursary scheme which provides money for some sports and helps them prepare for the Games. We just can’t wait to get over there now and get started.
Thanks so much to Isla for taking the time to speak to us and shining a light on Guernsey and also the media aspect of the Games. We’re chuffed to partnering with Team Guernsey again and have no doubt they’ll be riding high in the final medals table. You can follow their progress on their Facebook page and also on Twitter. Good luck to everyone involved with Guernsey!
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