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THE FOOTBALL HISTORY OF THE ISLE OF WIGHT IN THE ISLAND GAMES

If you haven’t already heard of the Island Games, allow us to introduce you. Organised by the IIGA (International Island Games Association), the occasion takes place biennially and internationally between numerous island communities. At present, all competitors act for non-sovereign territories of European countries, such as Gibraltar, Guernsey, Bermuda – and the Isle of Wight! The European countries that these nations must represent are Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Spain.

All kinds of sports are played at the Island Games, from volleyball to sailing, but football is one of the most popular. In fact, the Island Games football tournament is one of the most well-established non-FIFA international events, alongside the likes of football played in the Olympic Games, the Francophone Games, or the Pan-American Games. Every other year, fans flock to the host nation to watch and place their bets on the results of the men’s and women’s games. Although the Island Games have concluded for 2023, you can still use platforms like bettingsites.co.uk to find the best betting site when books open for the 2025 games. In the meantime, you can bet on other Isle of Wight teams using sportsbooks, although it’s not always as easy to find odds on these teams compared to EPL teams.

The criteria that an island nation must meet to be able to take part in the games is strict, and ensures that each participant is operating on a level playing field. All territories must have a population of under 125,000, with local associations of a minimum of two of the sports that will be played at the games; football and basketball, for example. The IIGA has a maximum membership of 25, which means the capacity for the Island Games is nearly full, as it currently stands at 24!

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Senior men’s football was included in the games in 1989 in the Faroe Islands, and women’s was introduced in 2001, and since then both have skyrocketed in popularity. The most successful teams currently are Jersey (men’s team), and the Faroe Islands and Åland (women’s team). Although not the champions, the Isle of Wight team have had victories in the Island Games football tournaments in the past.

In 1995 and 2011, the Isle of Wight won gold in the final of the football tournament against Gibraltar. In 1997 and 1999, their team triumphed against Guernsey and Jersey respectively to earn themselves third place. Most recently, they came in third in 2023 against Bermuda. One of the all-time top goalscorers comes from the Isle of Wight; Adam Barsdell, who scored four goals in 1995 during the football tournament.

When it comes to women’s football in the Island Games, the Isle of Wight also boasts a formidable team. In 2017, Gemma Woodford became a top goalscorer with a total of 6 goals during the event. During this year the women’s team came in fourth place against Jersey, and prior to this in 2009 against the Isle of Man.

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