By Brian Donaldson (Regional Development Officer for Highlands, Islands and Moray)
With a little over ten weeks to go until the Opening Ceremony at the NatWest International Island Games XIX (Sat, 8 Jul 2023 – Fri, 14 Jul 2023), the level of excitement for Badminton players, coaches and managers on the Island Communities participating in the Games has ramped up over the last four weeks, with the announcements of the badminton players selected to represent the Islands of Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles.
The International Island Games is as large a participation sport Championships as the Winter Olympic. There are 14 Sports this year in Guernsey ranging from Badminton to Triathlon and there are 3,000 participants expected. Many of us will marvel at the idea of approximately 3,000 participants arriving in Orkney in two year’s time when they will be the proud hosts for 2025.
Each team represents the best of the Islands badminton players available to compete in Guernsey and each of the teams show a blend of experienced players that have been to the Island Games in previous years and youth, for whom this will be the first time competing in these Championships.
Western Isles Island Games Association
The Western Isles Island Games Association were first to announce their badminton team on 27 March 2023, with players from the length end breadth of the Islands and further afield.
- Arlene Kerr, Volna Mackay, Emma Macleod, Orla McGuire
- Ben Denehy, Davy Fraser, Kenny Morrison, Kedar Paul
- Team Manager: Jay Moran.
The Western Isles Badminton Association has been given some fresh impetus following the appointment of Jay Moran as Team Manager and the team is made up of players that play in Lewis down to Barra Badminton Club. As such, the team represents the length of the Islands with Western Isles the diaspora being represented in the team numbers.
Preparation for the Island Games has been developing over the last few months with members of the team travelling to Wick and Portree amongst other places to gain competitive experiences. The results have been encouraging for the players with several friendly matches taking place in Stornoway and on the mainland, including some serious competition between a Glasgow All Stars team; Great Glen Badminton Club and recently The Granite City Badminton Club ventured forth, to share in the competitive experience that the badminton provides and at the end of the matches to enjoy the craic, ceol and ceilidh.
The music and dancing being a compulsory end to any competition on the Islands and North Highlands.
Team manager Jay Moran’s pride in the selected players and the links to the their communities was evident when he said: “These Games are a unique and marvellous opportunity for our islanders to compete at the highest levels in sport and I’m sure the Islands as a whole, and especially the local communities will be so proud of the chosen players”.
Shetland Island Games Association
The next badminton team which was announced on 2 April 2023 was that of Shetland Island Games Association comprising the following players;
- Ruth Anderson, Chloe Hitchin, Stephanie Keith, Shona Mckay
- Thomas Calder, Dean Guthrie, Ramsay Hogg, Luca Russell, Joe Thomson
- Lead Coach: Andy Bowman
The last few weeks has seen many of the selected players travelling to competition outwith the Shetland Islands as part of their preparation.
One of the competitions that sharpened the Orkney and Shetland Teams competitive edge was the recent 75th Inter-County Match, where Orkney ran out winners and as part of their competitive experiences we saw many of the Shetland players competing in Wick and Fortrose recently.
Orkney Island Games Association
The players chosen to represent Orkney by the Orkney Island Games Association are;
- Gemma Fouls, Jody Groundwater, Shannon Leslie, Rebecca Reid, Emma Work
- Erlend Ballantine, Tommy Ballantine, Sam Groundwater, Andrew Reid, Matthew Reid
- Team Manager: Moira Nicolson
- Team Coach: Tom Lambert
Similar to the other teams, players selected from Orkney have had a hectic last few weeks as the badminton season comes to a close. The team coaches and managers are planning to deliver coaching and competition opportunities which will keep the players focussed and fresh over the coming weeks in the lead up to July 8th.
Orkney Team Manager, Mora Nicolson outlined a hectic few weeks planned between now and the team departing for Guernsey:
“Players will continue to meet for three sessions per week where at two sessions the players will be following a schedule set by the Lead Coach, Tom Lambert and delivered by the Island Coach, Eion Ballantine”.
With these sessions under their belts, the team will visit Aberdeen and play in a competition designed to simulate the format of the Island Games Competition which Moira expects will give the 5 players who have not competed in the games before an idea of what to expect.
Get involved with fundraising
As well as the player preparation for the Games, there is a huge amount of fundraising taking place in order to financially support the teams participating.
If you are interested in the fundraising activity, you can get a flavour of this by visiting the social media pages of the Associations. If you live in Glasgow, or close by, there will be an event on 3rd June featuring Peat and Diesel at The Barrowlands to raise funds for the Western Isles Island Games Association.
The International Island Games provides Islanders with the opportunity to participate in International Competition representing their local Area and over the years there have been many Olympians competed in the IIG’s. perhaps though what participating in the International Island Games does for our sport is shows us the place our sport plays with these Island Communities and can act as a model for developing the sport throughout the mainland.
Best wishes to all that are selected to represent their Islands in Guernsey. Condolences to those not selected for the badminton team from us all in the Scottish Badminton Community. Enjoy the experience, achieve your targets and be sure to send us your photos.