Guernsey Press

Island Games venues and crowds 'absolutely buzzing'

HUGE crowds seen at Island Games events are far beyond organisers’ wildest dreams.

The organisers put out a house full notice on social media before yesterday's men's basketball match between Guernsey and Cayman. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32311240)

Sports venues and race routes across the island have been packed out with locals and visitors. Some facilities have welcomed crowds of a size they have not seen for years, if at all.

Communications and events director Amanda Hibbs thanked spectators for their extraordinary support since the Games opened on Saturday evening in front of thousands in Town.

‘We have been delighted with the crowds at all the venues.

‘The atmosphere has been amazing. Everywhere is absolutely buzzing,’ she said.

‘We knew the crowds would be big, but they have far exceeded our expectations.’

It is estimated that more than 8,000 fans in total packed the Track, the home of Guernsey football, for the hosts’ three group matches in the men’s competition.

Guernsey’s women have enjoyed the unfamiliar experience of playing in front of attendances counted in the hundreds.

There have been unprecedented crowds for track and field events at Footes Lane and access has been restricted to several basketball matches at the 'Beausie Dome' with all seats and standing area taken.

Sports which often take place with few spectators ­– such as triathlon and cycling – have proved to be huge hits at the Games, attracting crowds of hundreds lining race routes.

Viewing areas around the swimming pool at Beau Sejour have been filled to capacity each evening, often with dozens of additional spectators in the theatre where races are being livestreamed.

‘It has been great to see that the Games are appealing to people of all ages,’ said Mrs Hibbs. 'The number of children at events has been heartening to see.

‘We did a lot of work with schools in the run-up to the Games and it has been great to see that children have embraced the message and feel inspired by it.’

Extra marshals have been drafted in to manage larger crowds than anticipated at Beau Sejour and Footes Lane.

‘Athletes have travelled miles to Guernsey because of their love of sport. They have brought a fantastic energy to our island and the Guernsey people have responded brilliantly,’ said Mrs Hibbs.

Many spectators have adjusted their plans after finding venues more packed than they expected.

‘We were going to go to the athletics because my mum is volunteering there, but it was rammed so we came to Beau Sejour to watch the swimming,’ said Nicola Boatwright-Smith, who was watching with friends and children.

At Beau Sejour, they found no remaining space at the swimming viewing areas, and so watched races on the big screen in the theatre, along with about 50 others.

Crowds have been noisy and colourful even at some of the island’s smaller venues.

At the Badminton Halls in the Rohais, Guernsey's top player Jordan Trebert said Faroe Islands’ supporters had put on a great display.

‘They are very loud,’ he said. ‘Personally I try and take the energy from wherever I can. We gave it good back as well, but at the end of the day they deserved their win, and their support is brilliant.’