Guernsey people have a rather unique relationship with sport. The size of the island means that nowhere is too far away, whether that’s playing football down at Rovers on the west coast as the sun sets, or being out on the water rowing, sailing or surfing just a matter of minutes after leaving work or school.
Island sport also has a very sociable feel. Most sporting facilities aren’t far from a restaurant or watering hole, giving ample opportunity to relive the game at the bar afterwards. Generations of the same family play for the same club and remain loyal supporters on match day.
Not only is sport exceedingly accessible, there’s also an impressive range of opportunities on offer for a community of Guernsey’s size.
There are the popular team sports such as rugby, football, netball and basketball but there are also, for example, thriving shooting clubs, boxing gyms, an increasing number of petanque terrains and an ever-growing list of water sports to try. Guernsey’s natural environment provides a stunning backdrop to a whole host of informal sports and activities from park runs and sea swims to Sunday cycles.
The island has a rich history of competitive sport, indeed the island’s inter-insular rugby trophy, the Siam Cup, is the second oldest rugby trophy in the world to be contested after the Calcutta Cup.
Guernsey loves its sporting heroes too. In recent years, the Bailiwick has produced an Olympic gold medallist, professional footballers, a Wimbledon champion and a star of Touring Car racing among other elite performers; all of them celebrated and revered as Guernsey’s own. And where these professional sports people have led, others are following, inspiring a new generation of young sportsmen and women to take part in and enjoy the breadth of what the island has to offer.
The Guernsey Sports Commission is committed to maintaining and growing this breadth of opportunity ensuring that all members of the community are able to access and benefit from participating in sport.
‘There is a wealth of evidence supporting the social and economic benefits of taking part in sport,’ said the commission’s performance director, Jeremy Frith.
‘We are working hard to ensure that all members of the community can reap these benefits no matter what age they are or their financial circumstances. We are continuing to increase the breadth of opportunities on offer in our primary and secondary schools; we are lucky to have a dedicated workforce of sport specific development officers and we are pushing our work out to older members of the community helping us to inspire all generations to get active for life.
‘But most importantly sport is there to be enjoyed and what better place to do that than in Guernsey. We have the facilities, we have the natural environment and we have a fantastic number of dedicated volunteers working as coaches and administrators to make sure that everyone’s experience of sport is a positive one.’