Cayman’s sportsmen and women are gearing up for a busy period in the next couple of months.
First there is the NatWest Island Games in Aland, near Finland, at the end of the month. Then they go off to the Caribbean Games in Trinidad.
Golf is one sport at the Island Games and surprisingly, 23 of the 25 territories have entered a team. Cayman usually sends a golf team based on who is available at the time but for this one they had a qualification process and the best players will now represent.
Bob Slatter has been organising things. He said: ‘I’m very excited as the manager of our golf team going to the Aland Island Games.
‘For the first time we are sending a team that has a good chance of bringing home some medals. I’ve been saying all along we can win medals, but now I’m positive we will win medals.’
The men’s team will be competing for team and individual medals based on the best three scores each of the four days. The individual competition is the player’s four day score.
Slatter gave his assessment of the team: ‘Robert Chilman is an experienced senior golfer who led all age groups in the recent qualifiers. Tracy Moore is another experienced senior who is glad to be back on our national team
‘Johnny Widmer is just completing his first year on his college team in the US and he expects some great scores.
‘Robert Woods is a steady player who finished second in the qualifiers.
‘Samantha Widmer is our top lady golfer and she’ll compete for an individual medal.’
Aland is near Finland in Europe and the climate is a lot chillier than here even though it will be summer there too. Temperatures will be in the mid-60s Fahrenheit compared to the high 80s we’re enjoying now.
The Inter-Island Games started in the UK’s Isle of Man in 1985, with the intention of bringing together a number of small islands from different parts of the world in friendly competition as part of the Isle of Man’s Year of Sport. Since then the Island Games take place every two years.
The main criteria for each island is a maximum population of 150,000. Canada’s Prince Edward Island is probably the largest competitor with that many. Cayman’s population is roughly 60,000. The last Island Games were in Rhodes, Greece, in 2007.
Other benefits of such a unique festival of sport are the opportunities for cultural exchange and social interaction with visiting teams, and to establish new friendships.
NatWest Island Games XIII – Åland 2009 will probably be the biggest Games ever, with 3,700 participants. Cayman is sending around 90 competitors and 40 officials.
John Lindon is Community Investment Manager for NatWest. He has just toured the island’s sporting arenas and believes the facilities on Aland, population 30,000, are a match for his own island, which has three times the population.
‘The sporting facilities you have here for the number of people who live on the island, it’s just fantastic,’ he said.
‘There’s a wonderful style of living combined with such a strong culture and tradition. The people are very settled. It feels such a safe a secure place.
‘Add that to the industry and organisation the whole island is putting into the Games and I’m sure we’ll get a Games all that effort deserves.’
Samantha Widmer, a trainee accountant, said: ‘I’d like to go out there and win. The favourite is Bermuda’s Laura Robinson who has won it the last two Games but my scores in championships are better than hers.’