Guernsey Press

Tough draw for hosts in their quest for gold

GUERNSEY will have to do it the hard way if they are to repeat their success of 20 years ago and win Island Games men’s football gold on home soil this summer.

The draw being made for the Guernsey 2023 NatWest International Island Games football competitions. Left to right: Martyn Banton, Guernsey Football Association vice-chairman, Brian Allen, chairman of the Guernsey Island Games Association and Chris Schofield, GFA chairman. (31755620)

The hosts, who won bronze when football last featured in the Games at Gotland 2017, will face Western Isles, Aland and Isle of Wight in a particularly tough Group One, with just the top team progressing to the semi-finals.

Jersey, the only other Channel Island in the men’s event after Alderney missed out in last September’s draw to whittle down the oversubscribed competition to the maximum of 16, will face Games newcomers Gozo as well as Menorca and St Helena.

Meanwhile in the 10-team women’s competition, Guernsey are in a group of three with Ynys Mon and Western Isles.

Guernsey 2023 football coordinator Gary Roberts said excitement is now building with the draw having been announced.

‘Everyone is aware of the growing popularity of the women’s game, particularly following England’s success in the Euros last year, and we look forward to welcoming the nine visiting women’s teams, along with the 15 visiting men’s teams, for what we anticipate will be very competitive competitions,’ he said.

‘The football organising committee is progressing well with preparations for the competitions, and this includes plans to introduce a £125k pitch maintenance equipment bank that will be used to ensure the pitches at College Field, Corbet Field, Northfield, Blanche Pierre Lane and the Track are in the best possible condition.’

The football pool games will take place Sunday 9 to Tuesday 11 July. The top teams from each group will go through to the play-offs on Thursday 13 July with the finals on Friday 14 July.

Who will coach the Guernsey men’s team has yet to be decided, with GFC manager Tony Vance, who took the Island side for last year’s Muratti, revealing to the Guernsey Press Football Podcast yesterday that he has been asked to consider the role.

‘What I’ve said is right now my energy is on trying to keep Guernsey FC in this division. We’re in a relegation battle and if we were to go down it would be really detrimental financially, and in many other ways a real negative for the club.

'So my energy is 100% on trying to keep us in this division and we’re in a tough relegation battle and we’ve got to get out of that,’ Vance said.

‘I don’t know what that’s going to take out of me. We’re in January now, the Island Games is in July, I totally respect that it is going to be an amazing opportunity and competition to be involved in, and to a certain degree the top thing, but right now that’s in July and I can’t think about that.

‘For me, I don’t know where I’m going to be in April in terms of my energy levels and I wouldn’t want to be committing myself to something I don’t think I can give the absolute 100% attention, but I’ll know more around February-March time bearing in mind where Guernsey FC are as a football club on and off the pitch.

'That’s my priority, I’ll know more then.

‘I appreciate that there needs to be someone in place and I’ve said to the GFA that if somebody comes along and they want to support that person, or they want to go out and find somebody, brilliant – I’ll be very pleased because it means someone can give that attention to it.’

Men’s competition

Group One – Guernsey, Western Isles, Aland, Isle of Wight.

Group Two – Isle of Man, Ynys Mon, Falkland Islands, Shetland Islands.

Group Three – Greenland, Bermuda, Froya, Orkney.

Group Four – Menorca, Jersey, Gozo, St Helena.

Women’s competition

Group One – Jersey, Bermuda, Hitra, Aland.

Group Two – Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Menorca.

Group Three – Guernsey, Ynys Mon, Western Isles.