The NatWest Island Games in the Isle of Wight next month are set to be the biggest ever with almost 3,500 competitors plus a small army of local volunteers to ensure the 14th Games run smoothly.
In total, 24 of the 25 island games members are sending teams, with only Prince Edward Island in Canada a late withdrawal due to last minute funding difficulties.
Apart from the Isle of Wight with 316 competitors, the next largest team attending is Guernsey with 296.
Chairman of the 2011 Organising Committee, David Ball, stated: “The 2011 Organising Committee is delighted at the level of entries and support for the Games due to commence here in a few short weeks. We have worked hard to try and provide the Islands with good facilities both in and out of the competition arenas and we look forward to hosting a great week of keen but ever friendly competition in the true spirit of the NatWest Island Games.”
Prince Edward Island had been planning to send basketball and football teams: “Whilst this is disappointing it will have a very limited effect on the total numbers of competitors,” Jorgen Pettersson, Chairman of the International Island Games Association commented.
Meanwhile, the Western Isles have drawn Aland and Saaremaa in the men’s football Group D matches. The women’s team have also landed in a three-strong group and line up against Gotland and Saaremaa.
The international island games take place between June 25 and July 1. Participants from 24 islands will be competing in 14 sports over the week long games, namely archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, cycling, football, volleyball, sailing / windsurfing, squash, swimming, shooting, table tennis, golf and tennis.
Of the 14 sports, the biggest competition will be the football with 510 players involved, competing in over 60 football matches played over six days. Premiership referees will also be involved in the competition programme.