Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The 2011 Island Games: Greenland v Rhodes

The Island Games banner at Brading.
The fourteenth Island Games are being held on the Isle of Wight this week. This is a mini-Olympics for 25 islands which don't have nation status, with over four thousand athletes competing in a wide variety of sports over the course of the tournament.

I have taken two trips over to the island so far, watching two of the men's football matches. The first of these was on Sunday at Brading Town FC, where the biggest island in the world, Greenland, were taking on the Greek footballers of Rhodes in the mid-afternoon sunshine.
Plenty of support from other Greenlandic athletes.
The match was hard-fought, but lacked a little in goalmouth action. Rhodes won a penalty midway through the first half, but it was tame and easily saved by the Greenland keeper. It reminded me of Kevin-Prince Boateng's hesitant pen for Pompey in the FA Cup final last year, not least because the two sides were wearing roughly the same kits (although Rhodes were in Chelsea blue, so it wasn't quite the same).
Flags flying above Greenland's Party Car.
The crowd were very much on Greenland's side. They had a big following from their own athletes. Their women's football team weren't playing on Sunday, so I assume it was them that were doing most of the chanting. A small group of English fans were also cheering the men in white on, singing such renowned ditties as "the referee's from Iceland" when the man in black was fooled by a Rhodes player's swan dive.

We were also treated to a selection of Greenlandic pop blasting from a car stereo throughout the second half. In case you're wondering, it sounds just like every other manufactured pop the world over, except sung in their own language. A bit disappointing really.
The Rhodes coach captured in a quiet moment.
The Greeks did manage to take the lead before half-time. A lofted free-kick was missed by the Greenland defence, and the Rhodes number nine managed to bundle the ball home from a yard out. Greenland's keeper kicked the post in frustration. All that preparation, and his team could effectively be heading out of the tournament after 30-odd minutes, what with only one team qualifying from the group of four.

The Greenland fans weren't the only noisy people in the ground. The Rhodes coach must have yelled every word in the Greek dictionary throughout the 90 minutes, with every gesticulation in the Greek semaphore dictionary as an accompaniment. In contrast, his team's substitutes only used the word "bravo!" I guess that's Greek for "well played!"
Rhodes clear the ball upfield.
Nothing much happened in the second half. Rhodes were content to keep the ball and make Greenland chase blue shadows in the very un-Arctic temperatures. They did manage to score a second ten minutes from time. Then still nothing much happened...
Greenland kit.
...until the board was shown to indicate four minutes of injury time. Then it all went hatstand. Greenland scored a few minutes previously, the ball being hooked in from six yards. Rhodes got wound up - their play-acting (which was always there or thereabouts) was turned up a few notches to eleven. They argued and time-wasted, for which their keeper was booked. Then one of their players stroppily pushed over a Greenlander (and at the far end of the pitch as well) - a sending-off. A minute later and a panicky mix-up in the Rhodes defence caused the goalkeeper to handle outside of his area - a second yellow, and he was off too. It took several minutes of arguing and harrumphing, but eventually one of the outfield players was given a goalie's shirt and play could resume.

The resulting free-kick was lumped in, the stand-in keeper grabbed the ball with all the goalkeeping skills of a newborn baby giraffe, and the ref blew for full-time.
The hot weather suited the Greek team.
2-1 to Rhodes in front of 202 enthusiastic fans at a pretty ground for just three quid. Most enjoyable!

More match reports to follow shortly.


  1. It is very interesting. Thank you.

    Vlad Ivanov from Russia.

  2. Thank you for your kind comment Vlad.

    The latest news is that Rhodes have been thrown out of the competition and banned from the next two Island Games football tournaments after having eight players booked and three sent off against Jersey last night.

    I didn't think they were quite so bad against Greenland - maybe a little excitable and unsporting at times, but I've seen far worse. I suppose the organisers want to uphold the friendly nature of the competition, and they've made an example of Rhodes. I would expect more news to follow.