The Island Games is a biennial international multi-sports event organised by the International Island Games Association. It provides an opportunity for residents and natives of small islands around the world to compete in a variety of sports in international competition. The 2019 renewal is to be held in Gibraltar between 6-12 July.
Jersey is traditionally one of the largest islands to compete, and with just a few weeks to go we caught up with team manager Mo Orbaska for a chat.
KUDOS: So can you tell us a bit about your role within the team and what it entails?
Mo: So I’m the General Team Manager and I look after all the sports and liaise through each sport as the team manager and they relay back to the athletes. We’ve got 16 sports, which means we have athletes represented in every sport. We probably have one of the biggest teams travelling to the Games.
You were 3rd in the medals table at the last Games – 85 medals including 29 goals, which is amazing – do you have similarly high expectations this time?
Yes – we are always striving to win as many medals as possible, but in truth you never know what the competition is going to be like at these events. Other nations can suddenly produce, say, a high class 100m runner, so you don’t know what the competition is going to be like because there’s not that exposure. We do know though that it’s a really good level of international competition and for our athletes, next to the Commonwealth Games, it’s the highest standard.
How do you cope, logistically, for the Games…getting everyone there, cost etc?
It’s a bit of a nightmare! We’ve chartered a plane which is going to and from, twice, doing two legs. So we’ll be taking the team down to Gibraltar in the morning, and the plane will fly back to Jersey to pick up the second lot and take them too! So it’s quite an expensive process. The athletes will mostly pay their own expenses, but it’s up to each sport to have their own sponsor, while we have some overall sponsors who help us out with financing so we can give each sport a bit of help with travel and accommodation expenses.
Do you have high hopes for anyone in particular medal-wise?
Well I probably had more contact with the athletes and knew more about them individually in my last role – before I moved into management – when I was a physio. This role has so many more logistical problems to deal with I’m probably not as up on every athlete! But we tend to look at athletics, shooting and swimming – they’re always good medal possibilities for us.
How would you sum up the Island Games to someone who’d never heard of it?
It’s an amazing opportunity to see that number of athletes in a multi-sport event hosted in a small area. You’ll see a high level of competition and a great team atmosphere. They call it ‘the friendly Games’ – it really is like a family. This will be my 14th Games and you go back every couple of years, see old friends…some of them will have moved up into management as well! And there’s always new people coming into it too. The atmosphere in Gibraltar will be amazing – it’s a very small area that will be enclosed and there’ll just be masses of athletes and coaches going around in colourful KUDOS tracksuits and t-shirts etc. It’s going to be fantastic!
Thanks so much to Mo for taking time out of her busy schedule, so close to the Games. We’re thrilled to be providing Jersey’s kit, and we’d like to wish Mo and everyone connected to Team Jersey – athletes, coaches and staff – the very best of luck in Gibraltar!
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