Sport

Gibraltar Rugby – The growth of women’s rugby

in Features/Sport Insight

With a few games of contact rugby under their belts, the first Gibraltar Women’s Rugby Select rugby team took to the pitch against visiting Spanish players on Sunday 20th June. Emotions were, understandably, running high. “At the start I was feeling really nervous,” said trainee psychologist Camille Lavagna, 23, “but as the match went I on I felt determined to take the win as we had all been working so hard together.” They got the win and a very closely fought game, 15-12, having to come from behind twice. There was even significant coverage of the game on GBC, a great advert for the game.

The very first attempts tentative steps at kicking-off women’s rugby on the Rock were made in 2008 following a successful schools programme. Then, around 2015, Teacher and rugby referee, Rob Azzopardi, resurrected the idea and, on an exceptionally wet and windy Tuesday night in March 2018 at Devil’s Tower Camp, Zoe Fidock, later to become GRFU Chairperson for Women’s Rugby, and Tom Tunbridge, the current GRFU Vice-President, organised an open training session. Tom’s bombardment of the email in-trays of anybody that had expressed an interest paid off; despite the conditions 24 players turned up. Unfortunately, the time just wasn’t quite right for the women’s game in Gibraltar and, with issues over access and commitments, player numbers dropped.

By the end of the summer of 2018 I joined as a new coach, and ran weekly training sessions at DTC focusing  on building on basic skills with the players that remained. Then came the move to Gibraltar Rugby’s current home in late 2019 at the newly built Europa Sports Park. Suddenly, rugby players had access to a purpose-built facility, something which they had needed for years. Numbers began to recover.

Then the COVID and lockdowns arrived in Gibraltar. Despite this setback player numbers were maintained and increased once lockdown conditions began to ease. In fact, the numbers were good enough that the first competitive game of COVID-compliant touch rugby was played between Rooke and Nelson and refereed by Rob in mid-November 2020 with Nelson running out as winners on a sunny Saturday. It is easy to underestimate the significance of a game of touch rugby but as finance director, GRFU CFO and mum Georgie Taylor says: “I never thought I would be playing rugby again, so this journey feels really special.”

Three more games, all refereed by Rob, who brought his coaching skills to the role, were played before the second lockdown hit. Online quizzes were used to keep team spirits up as well as Zoom fitness sessions twice per week, which I used to manage. During the second lockdown the GRFU was restructured and the women’s game in Gib was reorganised to mirror the men’s game with four clubs. For the purposes of the playing regular matches, these were amalgamated into two teams: Red and Black. Their first match was held on 17th April 2021. Encouragingly, this game featured debuts for a couple of new players.

As COVID restrictions were relaxed, rugby activity in Gibraltar increased quickly with the advent of the Corporate Touch Rugby Tournament in May and the announcement of the inaugural Gibraltar Rugby Sevens tournament scheduled for late June.

The touch rugby tournament required mixed teams and nearly all the players found themselves being invited to play. New to the game trust administrator Kelly Gibbins, 22, played for the winning team. “I learned a lot,” she said. “How to read the game and seize the spaces, invaluable lessons for my growth as a rugby player. Every week brought endless smiles.” That learning and enjoyment was a gift to women’s rugby as players got more game time and those introduced to the game decided to take it further.

The Gibraltar 7s tournament presented the opportunity to play a full 15-a-side rugby in front of a crowd. However, this was going to be a game against more experienced players so training had to be stepped up. The first club game involving contact was played in May with a winning debut for police constable Leila El Yettefti, 25: “Before the game I was [so] nervous, then I saw my teammates had my back, I relaxed and enjoyed the game. After the win it was such a euphoric moment.”

With a few games of contact rugby under their belts, the first Gibraltar Women’s Rugby Select rugby team took to the pitch against visiting Spanish players on Sunday 20th June. Emotions were, understandably, running high. “At the start I was feeling really nervous,” said trainee psychologist Camille Lavagna, 23, “but as the match went I on I felt determined to take the win as we had all been working so hard together.” They got the win and a very closely fought game, 15-12, having to come from behind twice. There was even significant coverage of the game on GBC, a great advert for the game.

As this article is being written, the players are preparing for a new season. They are always looking for new players. “I love the fact that, no matter your experience or skill set, there is a position for everyone,” says student Milly Head, 17, “you meet such a variety of people. Despite being the youngest, the team has always made me feel welcome.”

“The girls in the squad are such a fantastic group,” adds Georgie. “There is some really great talent for the future of the women’s game in Gibraltar.”

“It feels great to be part of a team that is growing and developing together,” says Camille. “Playing rugby has definitely made me more resilient [and] enhanced my confidence and fitness.”

It is my view that we need to keep growing the game in Gib, to achieve that critical mass. The best way to do that is with games; the ladies just want to play more matches. Our plan is to be playing every couple of weeks, either domestically or against outside teams, home and away. That way you build both character and experience and get a pool of players to select from for our first international match. That’s where we want to be.

ICC World Twenty20 – 2021

in Sport Insight

Sport continues to take centre stage as Planet Earth slowly struggles to break free from the deadly tentacles of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this month it’s Cricket’s turn to play a leading role in lighting the way on the rocky road back to normality with the start of the T20 World Cup in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Originally scheduled to take place in India, but postponed because of the plague and the emergence of the virulent “Indian variant”, the 7th ICC T20 World Cup has been switched to the Middle East, starting on 17th of this month, with the final due to be played on 14th November.

T20 cricket, by far and away the most exciting version of the sport,  came into being in 2003 and the inaugural T20 World Cup was played in South Africa in 2007 when India claimed the cup by beating bitter rivals Pakistan by just 5 runs in an exhilarating final in Johannesburg. Of the six T20 World Cup finals played so far, West Indies boast the most successful record with two victories, with one each for England, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Surprisingly, Australia and New Zealand still await a maiden World T20 cup final win – something the southern hemisphere heavyweights will be pumped to put right this time round. England have contested two finals, beating Australia in 2010, and losing to the West Indies in the last tournament, played in Eden Gardens Kolkata in 2016.

This year’s tournament sees the sport’s top eight qualified nations – England, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies and, miraculously, Afghanistan, being joined by four qualifiers, two of which could be Scotland and Ireland, to form the Super 12, which is split into two groups of six. England face defending champions West Indies, Australia and South Africa in Group 1 which has already been labelled the Group of Death. Should Ireland qualify to join the group we could see a possible clash with England, an English side captained by Dubliner Eoin Morgan – not content with stealing football stars Jack Grealish  and Declan Rice from Ireland’s international youth teams, the “Auld Enemy” has gone and pinched their best cricketer as well!

Ranked T20 number one in the world, England are among the favourites to lift the trophy for the second time, the Red Rose having gained the sweetest of victories when bashing the Aussies in the final in Barbados eleven years ago. Shorn through injury of the services of the world’s fastest bowler Jofra Archer and top all-rounder Ben Stokes, who is taking indefinite leave to rekindle his mental wellbeing, their first opponents are defending champions West Indies, whose light has dimmed somewhat from the stellar days of Lara, Lloyd, Marshall and Richards, but on their day the Windies are capable of scalping any side. Faltering giants Australia and South Africa follow, along with two qualifiers yet to be determined, all in all a teak-tough group, and should England qualify for the semis, Morgan’s men should not fear whichever teams emerge from the other group. The entire world, not just the world of cricket, will hope that the courageous band of men representing Afghanistan prosper in the heat of battle in Oman, but will the Taliban be watching and dancing in the streets!

My first recollection of cricket was when accidentally wandering through an open gate after a liquid lunch in Tunbtidge Wells and finding myself among a sparse scattering of spectators at a county cricket match, where nobody appeared to be watching the on-field action and quite a few appeared to be having a nap. I noticed one elderly lady nearby who was busily knitting, while a Yorkshire terrier lay sleeping at her feet.  In the distance I could see the players, all immaculately attired in brilliant whites, top and tails, I could hear the odd shout carried on the breeze, and thought to myself, how nice, how posh, how totally different to the shouts of abuse I endured while playing footy on Hackney Marshes every Sunday morning, and then I fell asleep, coming to two hours later.

At that time i thought cricket should be sponsored by Ovaltine as a bedtime drink to cure insomnia, but with the advent of T20 all that changed forever. Now, every ball bowled, every run scored, every target set is vital, tension-filled and often breathtakingly exciting – no chance of a nap now as the result is often in doubt until the final ball is bowled or the winning run secured. We’re blessed to have four weeks of exhilarating action to come, every match covered on TV, pub-friendly start times – lunch times and evenings. Howzat! I can’t wait!

Current odds: 

India 13/5, England 7/2, Australia 6/1, West Indies 7/1, New Zealand 8/1, Pakistan 10/1, South Africa 12/1, Bangladesh 50/1, Sri Lanka 66/1, Afghanistan 80/1, Ireland 500/1, Scotland 1000/1, Netherlands 1000/1, Papua New Guinea 1500/1, Oman 1500/1, Namibia 2000/1.

TV Coverage: Sky Sports / Highlights BBC1

Radio Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live


Selected Group Matches (all times CET)
17th October
Bangladesh v Scotland  – 15:00
18th October
Ireland v Netherlands – 11:00
19th October
Scotland v Papua New Guinea – 11:00
20th October
Sri Lanka v Ireland – 15:00
21st October
Oman v Scotland – 15:00
22nd October
Namibia v Ireland – 11:00
23rd October
England vs West Indies – 16:00
27th October
England vs Qualifier – 12:00
30th October
England vs Australia – 16:00
1st November
England vs Qualifier – 15:00
6th November
England vs South Africa – 15:00

Football Insight

in Sport Insight

Last season Lynx lead the way with streaming our matches to audiences worldwide. For the 2021/22 season, we have teamed up with FreeBySport TV to once again offer live coverage of all of our Gibraltar National League fixtures.

After gaining many new fans last season from around the globe, it was important that we still gave them a platform where they could watch us. With new players, comes new fans and new viewers from more countries. Having the ability to show games live, gives their families the chance to proudly watch them play, and gives sponsors more exposure than ever before. It’s a great chance to give football in Gibraltar even more exposure.

This season will include commentary from former member of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Steve Brown, who went into broadcasting and journalism 10 years ago.

“I have been following the progress of rock football for many years and during that time the game has improved dramatically. New players joining clubs from overseas and more importantly the emergence of local talent coming through the academies has been encouraging and refreshing to see. So to be asked to join FreeBySport TV for the 2021/22 season as their lead commentator was a privilege and an extremely easy decision for me to make. 

Over the past few seasons FreeBySport TV has primarily been a platform for promoting Mons Calpe SC with coverage of all of their games being shown online, but this coming season will be even better with the inclusion of Europa Point FC and Lynx FC, and also talk of possibly one or two more clubs joining forces before the start of the season which begins on October 15th. 

For a commentator and supporter of rock football it’s excellent news that those watching on the rock and around the globe will be able to follow the fortunes of their teams online and totally free of charge. There’s never been a better time to follow football on the rock in my opinion, especially with the recent success of Lincoln Red Imps and their progression into the Europa Conference League group stages. And of course the progress of the national game. 

A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to make sure we are ready for kick off. Meetings and emails are constantly being passed back and forth in order to make sure we’re all on the same page. It’s the start of something new. And for me personally it’s great that I’m able to use my skills for the good of football on the rock. Enjoy it. It’s free!”

A massive thanks to Steve for taking the time to give us a few words. 

It’s amazing that the streaming will be free for fans and so easily accessible for them. That is truly massive! We are really looking forward to being able to chat to even more fans on social media before, during and after the matches. Be sure to get involved!

Gibraltar’s Walking Footballers enjoy another successful International Super Masters Competition.

in Features/Sport Insight

Gibraltar’s walking footballers travelled to Denmark in August as the reigning International Super Masters 65+ Champions, after triumphantly winning the previous tournament in 2019 in Paris. 

The global Covid 19 pandemic meant that Gibraltar were unable to defend their title in 2020 as the annual tournament was postponed for a year given various lockdowns across many countries and the travel restrictions that have been in place. Actually, the postponement meant that Gibraltar’s Walking Footballers reigned as International Super Masters Champions in the over 65 age group for two years. 

Covid 19 has had some wide-ranging effects on many global tournaments and sporting events, many of which have been cancelled, shelved, and completely removed from international calendars. As soon as the Super Masters was rescheduled for 2021, Gibraltar’s Walking Footballers were determined to travel to Copenhagen safely, to defend their title. 

Yet for the majority of the Rock’s Walking Footballers, competing internationally is just a bonus and something to look forward to. Their twice weekly sessions using the facilities at the Bayside Sports Complex and the Victoria Stadium are much more important. For them, walking football provides a much-welcomed opportunity to exercise and take part in physical activity and do so in the sport they love and have loved for so many years. 

Furthermore, there is also a very important social side to Walking Football.Over a post session coffee tales and anecdotes from their younger days are frequently recounted and always with smiles and laughter across the faces of the footballers. 

As they left this August for the Danish capital though, defending their title was firmly on their mind, “Ready to go” one team member told the local press whilst previewing the tournament. They also had their eyes on the two other events in the over 65 category, the penalty shoot-out and the running event in which they would compete in for the first time. One thing was for certain, Gibraltar’s Walking Footballers had not lost any of their competitive edge!  

In the main event they were once again one of the standout teams in the tournament which was played in a 5 aside round robin format, somewhat similar to futsal, with matches lasting 15 minutes Despite a valiant effort Gibraltar were toultimately finish runners up to Wales. 

The running event, which was a first for our over 65’s saw them put in another valiant performance, finishing in 3rd place, but the best was yet to come. 

The third event in Copenhagen was the penalty shoot-out. With Eric Abudarham in goal, reigned supreme! The victory meant that they had finished in 3rd place or higher in allthree events they entered in Copenhagen, so overall hugely successful and proud week for Gibraltar’s walking footballers.  

Speaking after the tournament Gibraltar Walking Football Chairman, Eddie Guerrero, who was in Denmark said: 

“I am extremely proud of the performance of all my players and coaching staff in the three competitions that we participated in the Copenhagen Tournament. The hard training and preparation carried out prior to our departure for Copenhagen paid dividends and it demonstrated once again that despite our small catchment area we can compete with the best. We now look forward to the next international tournament to be held in Zurich in May 2022.”

 

WHAT IS WALKING FOOTBALL? 

Walking Football is a different version of the beautiful game.
Walking Football is a walking pace version of football for men and women.  It is a non-contact activity where any player who sprints, runs or jogs while the ball is in play concedes a free-kick to the other team.

HOW WALKING FOOTBALL IS PLAYED
• Running is not allowed. A participant always has to have one foot on the ground.
• Matches are played with modified formats (5v5/6v6) on smaller pitches with shortened game times
• It is a non-contact version of the game.
• The ball cannot be kicked above head height.
• There is no heading of the ball.
• The focus is on fun and making friends.

The full travelling party to Copenhagen consisted of: 

Players: Abudarham Eric, Baglietto Frank, Federico Eliott, Figueras Victor, GuerreroEddie(Player/Manager), Lugaro Hector, Martinez Diego, Moudden Mohamed, Pecino Jaime, Perez Jimmy, Sene Andy, Zammit Charles.

Accompanying Members: Ghio Luis, Fortunato Charles, Langston Albert.

Travelling officials: Gibraltar FA Delegate: Asquez Leslie, Physiotherapist: Mitchell David, Manager: Guerrero Eddie, Asst Manager: Britto Gerry, Coach: Stych Roy, Assistant Coach: Field George, Contingent Coordinator: Beltran Dennis, Match Delegate: Reyes Jon, Referee: Jones Dennis. 

Ryder Cup to the fore as sport lights up road to recovery

in Sport Insight

As the planet slowly recovers from the ravages of the terrifying Covid-19 pandemic, sport once again leads the way on the rocky road back to normality as, immediately after the successful and entertaining but spectatorless Tokyo Olympic Games, golf takes centre stage when the War of the World – United States vs Europe – tees off in the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, with the home side thirsting to avenge the 17.5-10.5 mauling suffered in the Paris debacle of 2018.

The Ryder Cup, named after English entrepreneur and golf enthusiast Samuel Ryder who hailed from Preston, proved to be an insurmountable task for the home nations in the initial years as the Americans, powered by immortals Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino etc, routinely and relentlessly brushed the opposition aside, often by embarrassing margins. I’m old enough to recall those dark days and how jarring were the patronising words of consolation and pats on the head proffered to outclassed opponents by successive Yankee captains at post-match victory celebrations, but in 1979 all that was about to change.

Golf was becoming very popular in continental Europe with the emergence of Spanish superstars, swashbuckling Seve Ballesteros, gritty Antonio Garrido, ‘El Niño’ Sergio Garcia, Captain Fantastic José Maria Olazabal, plus cigar-chomping Miguel Ángel Jiménez and German prodigy Bernhard Langer. With Europeans regularly scaling the summit of golf’s order of merit, and with Uncle Sam at last tiring of the cat-torturing-the-mouse routine that the competition had become, combined with TV stations’ complaints about the one-sidedness of it all, the call went up… the Ryder Cup must be opened up to the rest of Europe.

And so it came to pass – from 1979 stars from Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden strode to the aid of their beleaguered British and Irish colleagues and the effect was immediate, the Ryder Cup became a proper contest and the unthinkable happened – the Americans were being put to the sword, and for Uncle Sam, having grown fat gorging on the carcasses of inferior opponents, this was a hard pill to swallow. Of the 20 tournaments played since the change, Europe have won 11 to eight, with one tied.

Postponed for a year because of the plague, the 43rd Ryder Cup is scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin, with the action set to detonate on Friday 24th September and ending two days later on the Sunday. At the time of writing, barring any more nasty pandemic setbacks, the three-day extravaganza is set to be played in front of a full hostile house of fanatical and very noisy golf enthusiasts. Memories of the spanking the Yanks suffered last time in Paris are still raw in the States – the then president and golf nut Donald Trump was reported to be incandescent at the result, it didn’t sit well with the Ginger Don’s moronic MAGA chant of Make America Great Again – and Team USA are desperate to avenge what they consider to be that shameful collapse.

The Americans, led by non-playing captain Steve Stricker, are odds-on favourites with the bookies to wrest the Cup back, and with eight Yanks in the top ten of golf’s official world rankings it’s not difficult to see why Uncle Sam’s Boys are confident that America is on the road to redemption, with victory assured in what is sure to be an ultra intimidating Whistling Straits battleground. The team is made up of the top six in the points table who qualify by right, the remaining six places are ‘captain’s picks’ where Stricker has the option to include players based on current form or previous Cup experience, like class act Phil Mickelson, who boasts an astonishing 12 Cup appearances. I fervently hope that old ‘Lefty’ makes it 13.

Team Europe consists of the top nine in the order of merit, with non-playing captain Padraig Harrington having just three picks, an unenviable dilemma for the popular Irishman – who to pick, who to leave out? Just as with Mickelson for the USA, my earnest hope is that Ian Poulter be one of Harrington’s choices should he not qualify by right. The mercurial Englishman comes alive when donning Team Europe colours – not a hint of Brexit negativity here – a fantastic fanatical team player who has never lost a Cup singles match, won five with one tied is the proud record of Hitchin’s favourite son.

Who will emerge triumphant on Sunday, 26th September? My heart says Europe but my head whispers USA. Spaniard Jon Rahm, who tops the world rankings, is head and shoulders Team Europe’s finest, Rory McIlroy occasionally shows signs that he might be about to rediscover some of his past zest, Tommy Fleetwood is flying and Tyrell Hatton has been a revelation this term, all signs that Team Europe have realistic hopes of hitting the 14-point target that, as holders, would see the Ryder Cup retained. It’s going to be an exhilarating three days, with every stroke live on TV. Don’t miss it!

Current odds: Team USA 4/7, Team Europe 2/1, Tie 12/1

TV Schedule of The Ryder Cup Action (Tee-off times to be announced)

Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Golf

Also excellent coverage BBC Radio 5 Live

Friday 24th – Morning 4 Foursomes – Afternoon 4 Fourballs

Saturday 25th – Morning 4 Foursomes – Afternoon 4 Fourballs

Sunday 26th – 12 Singles

Football Insight

in Sport Insight

First line of defence

In football, the danger of injury or health issues is not just confined to match day. Problems could occur at training too. Which is why we committed to having First Response Unit, not only at matches, but also every training session. This doesn’t only apply to the adults, we also have them present at youth training sessions and matches. Having first responders present certainly brings peace of mind to the parents and guardians, and recently, were present at the Gibraltar Football Association summer camp.

The team of around 25 have a multitude of important equipment at their disposal; trauma bags, first aid bags, stretchers and crucially, a defibrillator. While it is hoped the latter is never needed, it is an incredibly important piece of life saving kit to have present at any level of football. It’s importance being seen recently in the Euro 2020 championship with Christian Eriksen in Denmark’s opening fixture against Finland. Everyone should have access to these facilities regardless of what level they play at. 

Committee member and first aider for First Response Unit Deidre Copello said “I feel very satisfied with the responsibility, but above all I feel that the players themselves feel more protected with the fact that there is first aid service”. And for sure, every player does feel safe in the knowledge that such professional help is at hand. While such cases may be rare, it is better to have provision in place than not at all.

It goes without saying that we are proud to have First Response Unit working alongside us, safeguarding the health and fitness of all members of the Lynx family.

In this issue we would also like to recognise the efforts of committee member Kathy Noble, wife of our president , Jack Noble. You know what they say, behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes…. hang on that’s not right is it, although it maybe true in this case…. winky face emoji. We love you really Jack. But in all seriousness, Kathy has been an incredible asset to the club over the years, helping out behind the scenes and always supporting the club in whatever way possible. Kathy has always been there to help Jack and the club, and without her, the club would be a lesser place, and for that, we thank her! 

Cauliflower Ears and mental health

in Features/Sport Insight

Cauliflower Ears and mental health; how the Gibraltar Rugby Football Union (GRFU) is addressing mental health within its
membership and within the organisation.

All sports have a stereotypical image and Rugby has many to choose from, but the overriding narrative is that it’s a tough sport played by tough people.  At our domestic competitive level and above, that is superficially true – I’ll explain that statement later… But what does “tough” mean? 

Historically clubs and unions have focused on providing services that help promote and care for players physical health. We know that Rugby is a tough physical sport and at this point I’ll thank our hard-working physiotherapist, Joyce, for her sterling work in patching us all up, but for this up-and-coming season, the GRFU is putting into place a support network of trained mental health first aiders (Cauliflower Ears) to support its members, officers and the wider rugby family’s mental health, by recognising those that need help and offering information and sign posting to relevant services if required.

So, what does tough mean? In a rugby context, we generally talk about the physical demands of the game and the contact that is made when one player tackles another player, or two packs scrum down, however physical toughness does not automatically translate into a well-balanced, healthy mental frame of mind.  In fact, frequently physical toughness is often a façade used to hide behind or compensate for poor mental health.  We all have mental health (as we do physical) – some good some poor but we all have it.

Society is as a whole becoming more open in discussing our mental health, however the stark reality is that one of the highest causes of death in young men (our core membership) is still suicide.  Recognising this and its link to poor mental health, the Cauliflower Ears were formed and are a group of friendly, non-judgemental faces, that are there to listen and start a conversation, hopefully reducing the stigma of admitting you’re not well and need help.  It really is OK not to be OK – our Cauliflower Ears understand that and are happy to listen, whether that happens  in the clubhouse over a pint, or by the side of the training pitch or through a phone call, they are there to listen.

The Cauliflower Ear project was born after watching a programme on the TV that highlighted Prince’s Harry and William efforts to raise awareness of mental health issues amongst young men and implementation of support provided to football players.  This got me thinking and wondering what is being done for rugby players. 

Within the sport of Rugby in the UK there are several existing charities and initiatives across clubs and unions that provide players with help with their mental health (Looseheadz , Rugby Players Association – Restart and Lift the Weight Campaigns).  Once such initiative which offered a  potentially transferable solution was the Cauliflower Ear Programme run by the Lancashire Rugby Union (LRU). The LRU were providing a free professional counselling service to all members of constituent clubs within their union offering mental health and emotional well-being support. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, this was not an option for the GRFU, what was required was a low cost, low risk, reliable and resilient solution that could offer members information on mental health and well-being support.  Having considered various options and gained the support of Lancashire RFU to keep the Cauliflower Ears name as well as supporting artwork the GRFU settled on the option of providing a network of trained mental health first aiders (MHFA’s) across the union to support its membership.

The UK mental health charity Mind have designed mental health aid first training that equips  first aiders with the knowledge and skills to recognise those that may be struggling with their mental health and offer information and sign post to relevant mental health services if required, in Gibraltar this training is delivered by Clubhouse Gibraltar using the Mind framework.

The Cauliflower Ear project brief was submitted for approval to the GRFU, outlining the costs, commitments and outcomes, which was unanimously approved.  It was clear from the outset that we would need help to establish how the project was going to be delivered and a steering group was formed consisting of representatives from GibSams, Clubhouse Gibraltar and ChildLine.  This group met on various occasions acting as a sounding board, advisor and critical friend in helping us establish strengths, weaknesses, personal and organisational risk contained within delivery of such a  project.  We will be forever grateful for these organisations historical and ongoing support in our delivery of the Cauliflower Ear project and it is true to say  that we wouldn’t be in a position to deliver it without their help. 

We now have six “Cauliflower Ears” trained by Clubhouse Gibraltar that will operate across the GRFU.   We have also implemented supporting procedures and processes to help us manage and mitigate any potential personal and organisational risk in the delivery of the project.  As a small (personnel wise) and volunteer led organisation it is important to have safety nets and support networks to use if required by Cauliflower ears as we are acutely aware that it is essential to look after the people that are looking after our people.  Again our steering group partners have been instrumental in helping us to understand and plan for this as well as offering invaluable help and  resources should our Cauliflower ears need help, advice or a knowledgeable and confidential second opinion. 

We will be publicising the Cauliflower Ears across all normal platforms and hope to have an event highlighting mental health in the early part of the 2021-22 season, which we hope out steering group partners will attend.   Artwork from the Lancashire Rugby Union campaign will be regularly used to encourage everyone in the rugby family that’s its ok not to be OK and it’s important to talk about mental health.

The GRFU would like to say a BIG thank you to Gary Morgan – Rugby Safe Lead at the Lancashire RFU for supporting our use of the Cauliflower Ears name and artwork and our hugely supportive steering group partners Gibsams, Clubhouse Gibraltar and Childline for all their advice and support in getting this initiative off the ground.  We would also like to extend our thanks to the local company who has generously provided financial support to get this project off the ground.

The Gibraltar FA Academy is officially launched

in Features/Sport Insight

The Gibraltar FA is delighted to have officially launched its latest initiative aimed at the development of future generations of local footballers – the Gibraltar FA Academy.  

For the first time ever, all youngsters who want to play football, whatever their skill levels and abilities, will register with the Gibraltar FA Academy, instead of the Associations club members, which has been the case up until now. 

The first Gibraltar FA Academy cohort will begin in September 2021 for all children who are entering Reception and Year 1 this academic year. All other young footballers will remain with their clubs as per last year. 

The Academy, which is open for all children, (boys and girls), will run in conjunction with school years, so the children attending will be enjoying their football with their friends, as opposed to potentially being split up into the more traditional footballing age groups.  Sessions, which will will run in line with the school calendar, will take place on Wednesday evenings and Sunday Mornings, at the Victoria Stadium.  

A key part of groundwork that has been done, prior to launching the Academy, has been an in-depth recruitment process, overseen by the Gibraltar FA’s Technical and HR Departments, to ensure all the new Academy coaches are trained in basic first aid and safeguarding as well as have passed all the relevant local authority (Royal Gibraltar Police) vetting procedure. This is over and above the standard coaching badges and qualifications that each Academy Coach is required to have. 

The Gibraltar FA and its Club Members believe that every child should have the right to participate and play football, regardless of their individual skill level and ability, free from pressure of any kind placed upon them. Therefore, the new Academy will begin the process of setting each youngster off on their footballing journey, where they can hopefully progress and develop their talent and one day fulfil their footballing dream whilst simultaneously and simply allowing each child to have fun whilst playing football. All of this will be carried out in a safe and inclusive environment in which all children will learn the basics of our game.

An integral part of the Gibraltar FA’s commitment to youth development, the Academy is the product of a year-long collaborative process between the Association, Gibraltar’s football clubs and other stakeholders within the football community.

The Gibraltar FA’s General Secretary, Ivan Robba, is thrilled to have been able to launch the project:

“The establishment and launch of the all-new Gibraltar FA Academy is a hugely important step forward for youth football in on the Rock. It represents a shift in focus and a whole new approach towards the way in which our youngsters will begin their footballing journey. Young footballers will now enjoy learning and playing football, regardless of their ability, and their skill levels and this is something all of us involved in Gibraltarian football have been striving to achieve for many years.

I am particularly pleased that the Academy brings together the sterling work that has been carried out over the past year by ourselves at the Association in close co-operation with our Clubs, who have always been instrumental and hugely important in youth football in Gibraltar. This project shows everyone that the football community, as one, is pulling in the same direction, and the right direction, to ensure our children and our children’s children can have the best possible opportunities to learn and enjoy the beautiful game that we all love in a safe, comfortable and fun filled environment.”

Football Insight

in Sport Insight

More than just a shirt

The football shirt reveal…. The time when a club looks forward to showing off their new shirt design for the upcoming season. Their new work of art. The shirt that the players will wear with pride, and that fans will long to buy. Next to the badge, its the biggest part of a clubs identity used to show off their colours. After a couple of seasons of having a shirt which wasn’t predominantly yellow, it was time to go back to who we are. The Yellows. 

We often see fan made concept kits appearing on social media around the time of new kits being unveiled, and supporters going wild for them. So not wanting to use an ‘off the shelf’ kit, the idea was born to run a competition to give the fans the opportunity to design a kit for Lynx FC, with one being chosen by the committee members to be worn for the 2021/22 season, the designer of which, receiving the shirt as a prize. The standard was incredibly high, with more submissions than we imagined we would get. Many shirts having some subtle details, but each really bringing something to the design. The committee certainly had their work cut out in trying to pick our own favourites, and then finally agreeing on a winner. 

Lynx FC president Jack Noble had this to say about the new shirt:

“We are really excited to reveal our new kit for next season. Blocked largely in yellow, this well and truly takes us back to our Lynx family roots. The black shoulders ghosted with the coat markings of a Lynx, embodies our true fighting spirit. To us, the shirt offers a sense of family, resilience, and strong fighting spirit. We look forward to welcoming you back to the stands with us for the new season. We Live Forever”

The winning design by @theinkredible.munk on Instagram, features a striking pattern on the torso of the shirt, and on the shoulders and sleeves, a representation of the fur of the Lynx cat. For us it was also a must to feature the flag of Gibraltar, and our motto, ‘We Live Forever’, and we feel they absolutely nailed the placement on the shirt. 

He said “It’s truly an amazing feeling to have my design used in such a big way, this is a big motivator to keep designing. I love the fact that I was able to contribute something to the sport I love. I may not be good on the pitch, but I can still say I left my mark on it. As for the design of the shirts, I used the Iberian Lynx as inspiration, which is native to some parts of Europe. I recently found out it is an endangered species, so this can really spread some awareness as well”

We have to say thanks to all those who submitted designs, and as I said before, the quality was extremely high. You never know, we could revisit some of these designs for future seasons.

If you would like to register your interest in purchasing a shirt, please contact the club.

A huge thanks also has to go to Sprint Sports for producing this fantastic shirt for us, we returned to them after they did such an amazing job with our futsal kits!

The Gibraltar Football Associations summer camp comes back with a bang!

in Features/Sport Insight

The Gibraltar Football Associations’ Summer Camp came back with a bang this year, with over 150 children between the ages of 5 and 12, taking part the two week-long programme of fun themed football activities.

As a result of COVID related restrictions, the 2020 edition of the annual Summer Camp had to be cancelled. However, with youth sport up and running once again, the Gibraltar FA set out an ambitious plan to make the 2021 edition the best summer camp yet!  

Planning for the Summer Camp began well over three months before its scheduled start date of the 12th July. Key to everything was a planned and targeted recruitment drive to secure a team of motivated, enthusiastic and skilled coaches to deliver the sessions at the camp. In fact, all of the selected coaches not only had to prove they had their relevant coaching licenses, but they had to attend safeguarding and basic first aid courses as well as go through a Royal Gibraltar Police ‘vetting’ process to. 

Once all of the Coaching staff were in place, a number of preparation seminars were arranged by the Gibraltar FA’s Technical Department, led by Desi Curry the Association’s Technical Director, along with Laura McGinn the Gibraltar FA’s Women’s Football Manager and Jansen Moreno who has recently become the new Football Development Officer.  These seminars set out the clear plan for the two weeks of the camp, with each day mapped out, giving each of the coaches the preparation they needed to deliver an enjoyable footballing experience to every youngster at the camp. 

Another first for the 2021 edition of the summer camp, was the move to online registration, allowing parents to register their children digitally, free of charge and from the comfort of their own home.  Registrations were opened up on the 1st of June and within 48 hours the camp was oversubscribed!

As the children arrived at the Victoria Stadium for the start of the Summer Camp, on the 12th July, they were met by Gibraltar FA staff who signed them all in individually and directed them to their relevant areas, groups and sessions. Another main difference this year saw the move to split the children up into their school year groups as opposed to their traditional footballing age groups. This move proved to be extremely positive as it ensured that not only were the children attending grouped with other children of the same age, but most importantly with their friends, giving them a greater opportunity to enjoy themselves and have fun at the camp.  

Furthermore, not only were the children enjoying their football with their friends and classmates, they were doing so on the new recently re-laid pitches at the Victoria Stadium! The brand-new surface on the Stadium’s main pitch is a state-of-the-art and FIFA certified. 

The long overdue upgrade on Pitch 2, which has seen the same surface installed as on the main pitch, is just the start of the Association’s long-term goal of developing all footballing infrastructure on the Rock. 

One of the key aspects to the children’s enjoyment of the summer camp was the Friday ‘Jumping Castle Day’. Bouncing castles were brought in to give the children something else to enjoy during their time at the camp and this added feature proved to be a huge hit amongst all of the children present.  

Another innovation in this year’s edition of the camp was the installation of a giant football recycling bin, following the theme of the dolphin recycling bins that can be seen at Gibraltar’s beaches. With the need for all the youngsters to remain hydrated at all times, the Gibraltar FA has always been acutely conscious of the fact that it is not always easy for children to ensure they bring a reusable water bottle on a daily basis, or indeed every time they play football at one of the facilities at the Victoria Stadium. Therefore, the new recycling bin, which had been produced in conjunction with Selina Ltd, already provides an excellent collection point for any single use plastic that needs to be disposed of at the Stadium. All coaches at the summer camp were actively encouraging any of the youngsters in attendance to make use of the bin should they need to, as well as stressing the importance of recycling any single use plastic. 

Speaking at the conclusion of the camp, the Gibraltar FA’s Technical Director Desi Curry was extremely delighted with the 2021 edition and already looking forward to exciting new initiatives on the horizon for youth football on the Rock: 

“I am extremely grateful to all the staff who meticulously planned the event for well over three months to ensure we were totally prepared. Each and every one of our 25 strong coaching team and all of our extra on-site support staff who we have had have been amazing. We have been very pleased to be able to welcome over 150 children, on a daily basis, for the two weeks of the camp in a fun safe and inclusive environment for them to enjoy playing and learning about football with no pressure on them at all. As a result, we have now set the standard in terms of the quality of the sessions and Coaching camps that the Gibraltar FA can put on and this Summer camp is just the beginning of a whole new programme for youth football that will develop over the next few years in Gibraltar.”  

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