let me start with a congratulation to all of you. You are a part of a movement that next year will be Europe’s probably largest multisportevent. NatWest Island Games in Gotland will be the peak of the sporting year for all your islands and all your competitors, coaches, administrators and yourselves. We will see magic happen in Gotland and we will bring the stories back home and continue to develop sports within our islands. After that we will continue our never ending journey on Gibraltar and Guernsey and so on. Thanks to the effort you all do our Games have become something to be proud of and something that have developed sports within our islands in a way the Founders not in their wildest imagination could have dreamt of. I know, because I was there in Isle of Man 1985 and although we never understood what happened we saw a new star being born. A new island growing up from the sea. That is how great things happen. A seed turns into a plant that turns into a tree without anyone really see it coming.
In Isle of Man we played volleyball on concrete floor and the sprinters competed on grass that pretty soon turned into mud. We enjoyed every second of the first Games and those who were at charge at that time realised that this have to continue. Leadership is simple but it takes courage and a will to make a difference. The first one who took the challenge was Guernsey and our HLM Owen Le Vallee. He said yes because he believed what had happened had to continue.
I will not go through the rest of our history in detail but I want you to see the changes between the Games in 1985 and the NatWest Island Games today. Yes, we do compete towards each other in sport and yes, we have succeeded to keep the ”Friendly Games”-ethos. But part from that the Games today have very little in common with the Games in 1985. Development is the key and it has taken place thanks to small but important steps forward.
The NatWest Island Games today is very different from the ones yesterday. Our performances are better, our venues developed, the accommodation far from 1985 and the result service, for example, is world-class. Yet and for a fact very few dramatic changes have taken place. Part from the entrance of our title sponsor NatWest as per 1999 together with the development of the XIS-administration most of the steps have been small but important. All of them within the spirit of the Games and the strategic objectives which always have been a cornerstone in the building of the Association. Whatever initiatives we have been taken the ”Friendly Games” and ”Developing Sports on the Islands” have always been there. What happens on the islands is good for the islands. We have also left the bidding procedure behind us as we did not think it was appropriate to ask friends to choose between friends. That has to certain extent been difficult but not impossible. I want to thank Gotland, Gibraltar and Guernsey who have helped us in dealing with this new process. The Executive Committee will in the future be even more proactive in order to find new Host Islands and to encourage islands to become one.
So, where are the Games today? We are larger than ever. We have more potential Host Islands than ever. The results are better than ever. The cooperation with our title sponsor NatWest has always been great and we thank you for the extension that means we are covered until at least NatWest Island Games in Gibraltar 2019. Thanks to this we are on a solid financial ground. Should we stop and rest? Of course not. Like we always have done in the International Island Games Association and like we ask from our competitors we need to continue; we have to improve our performance by taking small and yet vital steps forward. When we fail we need to come back and try harder and perform better. That goes for the IIGA and that goes for all of you, representatives for the member islands.
For example. We know that many of the local IGA:s have member-associations at home who struggle to accept not being a part of the NatWest Island Games. So far and upto Gibraltar this have happened to Archery, Badminton, Bowls, Cycling, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Judo, Sailing, Squash, Table Tennis, Tennis, Triathlon and Volleyball. In fact it’s only Athletics, Shooting and Swimming which always have been a part of our Games. We have to ask ourselves whether this is acceptable or not. We have perhaps reached the point where we have to look into the continuity and see if a) something is broke and b) how we want to fix it.
Your Executive Committee have during its meetings in March and June therefore identified a need for an overlook of our strategic objectives. We are in no rush. We want to hear your views and we want to take on the project in a constructive and serious way. The International Island Games Association have moved on from enthusiasm and amateurism to professionalism and international recognition. That creates new challenges. What started as a sort of crazy project have developed into a highly respected international sporting organisation. That has happened thanks to small steps rather than landslides.
The work with our revised strategic objectives will be lead by EC-member Andrew Inkster who with a background as competitor and administrator and even part of a Host Island have seen the importance of NatWest Island Games. We start immediately and will come back with a first report during the Games in Gotland next summer. Your views on this will be appreciated and asked for.
With these words I want to thank all of you for the input you have given over the years. Development does not only take place in formal meetings. Prosperity is created when people meet and greet and talk and compete. We have had great dicussions, thousands of day-to-day workshops about sport and future and I look forward to continue that discussion today, tomorrow and in the future.
The International Island Games Association is a complex body with members from different areas, background, culture, language and traditions. Therefore it is important that we listen to each other, make the analysis and the decisions. Today we are going to cover items like drug tests, administration, financial situation and many other things. I would though already now like to thank our General Secretary Andy Varnom without whom this would have been very difficult and the rest of the Executive Committee who have decides to say yes to the future and being proactive.
Thanks for all the support you have all shown the Executive and the work that has been done. With these words we continue with todays Agenda.
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