‘We have made history’

Vanessa Szajkowska, right, was one of the Jersey women's basketball team who won their first Island Games match in over 20 years Picture: ROB CURRIE

WHILE the majority of the Island Games was fiercely competitive, there is no denying there were a fair few mismatches along the way.

Hitran golfers, half the Alderney team, the swimmers from Gozo have all had their struggles competing with the rest of the other islands’ best.

But while Jersey fared well in pretty much everything, picking up at least one medal in all but one sport, they also had a team on the wrong side of some grossly one-sided hidings in the one sport they were never going to win a medal in: women’s basketball.

You had to feel for them when they were grouped with eventual gold medal winners Menorca as they gamely received a 140-13 whipping.

But it was not all doom or gloom for this sisterhood. For they would make their own history to celebrate when they would win their first Games match since 2001 and only their second of all time.

It would come in the first game of two against the Faroes in a play-off for the wooden spoon, winning by just two points. Forget they then lost the second by four.

‘Jersey have made history. They’ve won their first-ever game for over 20 years. We want to inspire young girls in Jersey in basketball, or any sport for that matter, whether it is team or individual,’ said Jersey player Kim Neeson.

‘We had a young girl of only 13 on our team. She was on the team that won their first game in nearly 25 years and one day could be on the team that wins its very first gold medal.’

As well as the two Faroe games and the Menorca match, Jersey also played silver medallists Cayman Islands in the group stage, going down 80-34. The Caribbean island’s team included the reigning Miss Cayman Islands and their nomination for the 2022 Miss Universe pageant that provides its own sub-story.

Chloe Powery-Doxey originally finished runners-up in her domestic beauty contest to Tiffany Conolly but Conolly was dethroned after being convicted of criminal charges that included assault of her ex-boyfriend, his father, the police and damage to property.

Jersey’s loss to the Caymans kept up a losing run that had lasted 22 years, since they beat the hosts in the Isle of Man. Thankfully, their next game ended that unwanted hoodoo.

‘We’re doing it just to have fun. We were all netballers and hopefully we can convince other netballers to come and give it a go,’ said Ella Vieira.

‘This year, we’ve had a brand new coach, a brand new assistant coach and they have guided us through the process absolutely perfectly and, without them, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have been able to achieve this week and we have to thank them for that.

‘We want to inspire the next generation to come and play their hearts out like we have.’

This article was amended to the printed version that appeared on Friday 21 July in which it incorrectly attributed a quote to Kim Neeson. The error is regretted.

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