Having waited two extra years for the chance to compete in the International Island Games, male footballers from the Western Isles have been excluded by the luck of the draw.
The Western Isles Island Games Association announced last night (Saturday September 3): "Disappointing news I’m afraid, the men’s football draw to decide the 16 teams who will compete at the Guernsey Games next year was made this afternoon and unfortunately Western Isles was drawn as the 17th team, which makes us first reserve should any successful team fail to pay their entry fees by 30 September, or withdraw their entry."
A total of 19 member islands had entered a team and the IIGA Operational Guidelines, which are agreed by all member islands, only allows for 16 entries in team sports (football, volleyball and basketball). The virtual draw was witnessed by a WIIGA representative.
The Western Isles Island Games Association say: "All procedures were followed as per the operational guidelines. The only break with guidelines was to bring the draw forward to help with the challenges of allocating accommodation."
The NatWest International Island Games are a bi-annual competition intended to give island athletes the opportunity to represent their community and raise the profile of even the smallest islands.
The International Island Games Society says: “Growing up in small communities surrounded and shaped by the sea instils in us an independent spirit, a fierce pride in our culture and heritage — perhaps even a touch of stubbornness. It’s what gives games competitors the will and determination to train hard, defy the odds and reach for gold.”
The last games, in Gibraltar in 2019, saw the Western Isles take four gold medals, two silver and two bronzes, to finish 12th in the medal table. In Gotland in 2017 they won 14 medals, while Jersey in 2015 saw their biggest haul of 19 medals including nine golds.