We’re thrilled to have supplied the kit once again for Team Isle of Wight for this year’s Island Games. We spoke to Team IoW head honcho and, dare we say it, Island Games veteran Martin Goodall about his and the Isle of Wight’s Island Games past and present.
KUDOS: What’s your role with the Isle of Wight team?
Martin Goodall: I’m Chairman of the Island Games Association over here, so I guess I’m the overall bod in charge! I was Team Manager for the 2011 and 2013 Games, and I’ve been chairman ever since. Before I took over the central role I was the sports team manager, and that involved selection, making sure everyone got to their sport on time, and in many ways that’s the easy bit, because the sport is the simplest part. Logistically, taking it into a multi-sport setting brings lots of other distractions, so while the logistical aspect is there, it’s also about focusing the athletes…”it *is* just a swimming pool”….”it *is* just a running track”…and helping them to feel able to perform at their best. So my job really is to take on all the logistical stuff so all the athletes have to do is turn up with their spikes, or their racquet or whatever, and just do their thing.
It’s a tough job but I do it with great enthusiasm. The first thing I wrote down in my notebook was ‘it’s about the athletes’ – in capital letters, at the top of the first page. So every time things get slightly stressful, I just refer back to that, and remember why we’re doing this.
So this must be a pretty rare opportunity for your athletes to compete in an international event?
Oh yeah. Some of the other islands – Isle of Man, Guernsey etc – get the opportunity to go to the Commonwealth Games and represent their island on an international stage. But for people from the Isle of Wight – and some of the other islands – this is the only chance to get to represent our islands, and so that is a massive deal. I know for me it was one of the highlights of my sporting career, way back in 1993 when I competed in the triple jump and high jump.
Have you been involved in every Island Games since? And what kind of growth and changes have you seen in the event over that time?
I’ve not been continually involved, since, no. I got back into the Games in 2007 – I’d become involved in competing in other sports, doing other things, but I came back to it as a sports team manager in 2007.
I reckon the number of people competing must have doubled. It was around 1500 way back, and is usually around 3000 now. Of course that brings with it logistical issues, for the host island as much as anyone! At the end of the day we’re all small islands – not only do we have to put the event on, we’ve got to try and accommodate all these people! We’ve managed to get more sponsorship now, and things like the kit look better – we’re getting more professional. A lot of it is run on a voluntary basis, still, but it’s great that we have that backing and support from the community compared to, say, back in 1993 when people were more like “ooh, what’s this?”!
The very nature of the small islands means there is a limit to the scope of its growth – the infrastructures will only allow for the Games to get so big…?
Yes, well they had to cap it at 24 islands because the organisers thought ‘we can’t fit any more islands in’! You just run out of opportunities. I know there’s no football this year, but they’ve had to cap the football at 16 teams simply because you can’t accommodate everyone. There’s around 25 people in every football team / squad, so that’s an awful lot of people to accommodate for one sport. In Gibraltar there’s one football pitch – you can’t have a football tournament of 16 teams on one pitch. Some people were up in arms about it and it’s been described as ‘controversial’ but it’s not controversial at all, they’ve only got one pitch! It’s just practical, purely logistics. That’s one of the things that makes each Games different – every island is different and they all have different facilities.
You just have to accept this reality. Some sports drop in and out – squash is back in this time for the first time since 2013, because the hosting islands since haven’t had the facilities. You can’t host a sport if you don’t have the facilities!
Last time in Gotland Team IoW won 26 medals – do you have expectations to match or beat that this time, or is it difficult to set goals with limited knowledge of who and what you’re going to be coming up against?
Well, if some of our athletes match their 2017 times or performances I guess we could reasonably expect to pick up some medals or get into finals, but we don’t throw a medals target out there. We just want our athletes to go out and perform at their best. Having been a sportsman myself, I know sport is funny thing! There were days when I broke my personal best and I came 4th or 5th – there were days when I put in an okay performance and I won. You just never know! It just comes down to on the day, the circumstances…if you can give of your best and you get a medal out of it, great, and if you don’t then you can say ‘that was the absolute best I can do’.
That’s what I try and get across to the athletes the most – we’re not expecting anything, just enjoy it!
(This short BBC News item on Team IoW’s preparation for Gotland 2017 did a great job of capturing the spirit of the Games from a competitor’s point of view)
And how would you sum up the Island Games to someone who’d never heard of it?
It’s the small islands Olympics! It is literally our only chance to represent our island in name on the sporting stage at an international level, and as such it is a huge event. It gives so many people the opportunity to have that ‘Games moment’ and Games experience, and it’s just inspiring to be there and a part of it. It’s a really friendly environment. I wish everybody – not just on our team but across all teams – the very best of luck.
ICR Touch have provided us with all of the kit so I’d like to thank them. They’re Isle of Wight based and they got on board because they wanted to support the Isle of Wight in that setting, which is great. Red Funnel – our ferry company – have given us free travel across the island and we’re grateful for that too.
Thanks so much to Martin for giving us his time and such an illuminating interview. People like Martin – clearly so passionate about their island, about sport and about the event – are a huge boon for the Island Games and the event is all the better for having guys like Martin involved.
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