Yns Mons start twinning inititaive
This Monday saw the start of a two day visit by a contingent from the Ynys Môn Island Games Association to Gibraltar. The visitors were shown around local sporting facilities and toured local schools as they embarked on collaborative school project between Yns Mons and Gibraltar schools.
During the visit the delegation made presentations to local school about what the Island Games was about providing them with some insight into YNS Mons.
Their arrival was what they hoped would be the start of a twinning project between schools from both jurisdictions providing awareness on the cultural and language differences from both communities.
Emma Rogers Ynys Môn Island Games Association Team Manager highlighted how the project had first been tried out with the Jersey 2015 Island Games. The initiative, which originated from Yns Mons itself, explained that during the Jersey 2015 project “because they had 24 schools in the island they allocated each school to an island so we did a similar project when we went over and did a similar work with them. We felt it was so beneficial to the youngsters that we had children being inspired by that being aware of the games for the first time and then go on to compete, so we felt we should carry it on and that is why we have come to Gibraltar.”
Emma highlighted they found that there was an increase in the participation across all sports not just those relating to the Island Games following that initiative. “We have found since 2014 when we started this project that it has had a massive increase and so has our participation in the sports not just the participation in the island games but all sports so we have noticed the benefits of doing this and that is why we are continuing in doing this.”
Emma has attended every NatWest International Island Games since Shetland 2005, firstly as a Gymnastics Team Official, before becoming General Team Manager for the Rhodes 2007 Games. She has attend each of the following 5 games in this role. Emma works for the Anglesey Leisure Service within the Local Authority (Môn Actif).
Speaking about her visit to Gibraltar and the impressions she has been left with over the sporting facilities available she commented, “We are very very impressed somebody has a logistical headache the amount of work that is going on here hats off to them they are doing an amazing job we are very excited to come and seeing as a coach myself and when you have not had the best of facilities which we have not had in Yns Mons, to come to see the investment that the government is doing for the people of Gibrlatar we are very, very impressed. We are very jealous.”
Also present was Barry Edwards, Ynys Môns Island Games Association Athletics Co-ordinator. Barry has attended each NatWest International Island Games since Isle of Man 2001, firstly as a competitior in a number of athletics track events, before transferring full time into his current role for the XIV Games in Isle of Wight. Barry had previously combined the role of managing the athletics team while still competing at Rhodes XII and Aland XIII. Barry currently works on as a Sports Development Officer on Anglesey delivering projects for both Sport Wales and Welsh Athletics.
Tom Rogers, Ynys Môns Island Games Association Team Manager was also part of the main delegation. He first attended a NatWest International Island Games in Aland 2009, supporting Barry as an Athletics Team Manager. He continued in this role for both the Isle of Wight and Bermuda Games, before taking over the role of General Team Manager for the Jersey XVI Games. Tom currently works for Disability Sport Wales and has delivered a similar school engagement project prior to Jersey XVI.
Among the athletes was Eve Goddard-Smith a 17-year-old International swimmer who has competed in one previous Island Games and has represented Wales at a number of age grades and Gwenan Williams a 19 years old and currently studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She is a current Welsh U21 International Netballer.
Gwenan has represented Ynys Môns at one previous NatWest International Island Games, competing in the athletics event in Gotland 2017 (Shotput and Discus). Gwenan is aiming to compete in the same events in Gibraltar 2019. Gwenan delivered as part of a similar school project in the lead up to Jersey 2015, visiting First Tower Primary School, St Helier.
Speaking during the visit Linda Alvarez Chairwoman of the Gibraltar Natwest International Island Games Association committee welcomed the initiative from Yns Mons describing it as a great idea.
“It is their initiative,” she said, “so they were very keen to come over to do this project here and I think it is a great idea and maybe we can develop this with other islands.”
She explained that it would be difficult though to expand the twinning initiative itself further because Gibraltar has only a small number of schools “we cannot develop it too far some islands have far more schools than Gibraltar making it difficult for us.”
She nevertheless pointed out that her committee had already plans to start working with schools in Gibraltar to raise awareness of the games taking place next year. “We will be doing more in the schools. Children’s memories might not last very long so we want to do more nearer to the games. We will be doing a lot more in the schools to get them to come see the games and cheer on Gibraltar.”
A former school teacher herself in the past she acknowledged that children, unless they had older brothers or sisters, or other older family members who had participated would not know about the games, something which they hoped they would be targeting soon through a “a bigger campaign” and starting off with the “dolphin mascot” which she hoped would grab children’s interest.