by Catriona McAllister, CEO, Jersey Sport
As the weather shifts and the winter sports season comes to an end, we can reflect on and celebrate our island’s sporting achievements while building excitement and anticipation for the summer sports season ahead.
The 2022/23 sporting season was the first uninterrupted season since the pandemic and it’s great to see sport returning to pre-pandemic levels, and beyond.
I’d like to take a moment to congratulate everyone who played, competed and won leagues and competitions over the winter. High profile sports successes include our rugby team, the Jersey Reds, who recently claimed the RFU Championship title. While in football, Jersey beat Guernsey to win the Muratti . Winning Cup Finals, Leagues and Championships, as well as achieving personal bests, new records and medals in individual sports, are the culmination of so much dedication, hard work and passion.
In two months’ time we have the Natwest International Island Games XIX, taking place this year in Guernsey – a perfect opportunity for everyone to get involved, whether as a player, a supporter, a volunteer, a coach or a spectator. It’s important to acknowledge the hard work that goes into training for and hosting this biennial event that brings the islands together through sport.
I’m really looking forward to feeling the burst of energy across Jersey as outdoor sports begin their summer season. There’s nothing better (for me) than the buzz of team sports, race events and cheering crowds! This summer, Jersey will be hosting the first ever ICC (Cricket) Women’s T20 World Cup European Division 2 qualifier from 27 May to 3 June. Jersey will be playing against Italy, Sweden, Turkey, France and Germany for a place in the top two and promotion to Division One. Definitely a must-watch!
And if you’re not into team sports, there’s always the opportunity to test your own physical fitness and endurance with events and challenges such as the Island Walk, the Jersey Half Marathon and the Jersey Triathlon.
As the sun shines, the temperature heats up and the island bursts into life, I love watching people paragliding off the south coast as I cycle or walk the dog. It makes me so happy seeing people out running, walking, cycling, rollerblading and enjoying our amazing outdoor spaces. Families playing rounders on the beach, teenagers learning new tricks in the skate park or young children running around the park with a football. It all makes me smile!
It’s great to see the continued growth of sport in the island and at Jersey Sport we’re passionate about getting more people involved, especially those who are less represented such as women, minority groups and those on a low income.
Many people believe they don’t have time to ‘fit in’ playing sport, but the reality is, taking part in sport on a regular basis gives you so much in return! A fitter, healthier body is perhaps the most well known benefit, but taking part in sport also improves mental and emotional health, boosts mood and overall wellbeing, reduces loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression, improves concentration and focus, and enhances quality of sleep.
I feel it’s such a shame that competitive sport has become something to be almost frowned upon in much of the UK school system when in fact competition is something to be celebrated. It’s a way to push ourselves, learn discipline and consistency, and learn to step beyond our comfort zone (like training when we don’t want to or pushing beyond our limits to achieve new personal bests). Children who start playing sport at a young age will build healthier bones, muscles and cardiovascular health, reduce their risk of obesity and improve their coordination and balance. Sport is also one of the best ways for children to learn resilience and self-discipline.
This summer, I’m going to be testing my own resilience, fitness and self-discipline as I take part in the Tour of Cambridgeshire – Britain’s biggest Cycling Festival with challenges of 50, 66 and 100 miles. I’m excited to be able to take part in competitive sports again, and after many years off, it’s great to find a sport where I can compete against people of my own age group. This means everyone can still compete at a high level within their age category, rather than trying to compete against people half your age!
If you’ve never been involved in playing sport before, or haven’t competed since you were at school, I invite you to give it a go! In Jersey we’re so lucky to have so many amazing clubs and organisations that are very welcoming to new players of all levels, and also welcome new volunteers and supporters for all the work that goes on behind the scenes.
Remember, every successful athlete started their journey with one step in the direction of their dreams. Take that first step today and who knows where it might lead to tomorrow?
For more details of sports on offer in the island, please visit our Sports Directory at https://jerseysport.je/directory/ and for a calendar of local sporting events please visit: https://jerseysport.je/event/
This article was originally published in the Jersey Evening Post on 20 May 2023.