Sport

Gibraltar FA launches its all-new schools coaching Team

in Features

The Gibraltar FA’s new School Coaching team has been visiting a selection of local schools in recent weeks, delivering fun themed football sessions tailored towards all schoolchildren no matter what their football knowledge and skill levels may be.

Under the guidance of the Association’s Football Development Officer, Scott Wiseman, the team includes Gibraltar Men’s National Team Players Jayce Olivero, Julian Valarino, Anthony Hernandez and Kian Ronan (absent from the photo) alongside Chris Ward, Jake Victor, Kaira Sene, Alan Martin and Dan Bent (also absent from photo). Players from the Gibraltar Women’s National Teams will be joining the programme shortly. 

The Association’s school team have begun regular sessions this term during daily P.E. sessions at Notre Damn Lower Primary School, Governor’s Meadow Lower Primar School, St Joseph’s Lower Primary School and Bishop Fitzgerald Upper Primary School with other schools around Gibraltar joining the programme in the new school year. 

As part of the programme the Gibraltar FA will be providing the schools with equipment such as footballs and bibs for their use. 

The Gibraltar FA’s Football Development Officer, Scott Wiseman said:

“We are delighted that our Schools Programme is up and running and I would like to thank the schools and the Department of Education for all of their help and assistance.

As the new school year starts in September, we want to be able to have our coaches visit all local schools, to make fun and enjoyable football an integral part of the P.E. curriculum, for children of all footballing abilities. And by using our Men’s and Women’s National Team players as role models all those aspiring young footballing stars of the future can enjoy being coached by our internationals as well as look up to and dream of one day emulating them.

I would also like to thank all of the teachers, at all of the schools we have visited so far, and those we are planning to visit in the future for the amazing welcome they have given all of our coaches and integrating our team into their P.E. sessions.” 

Gibraltar’s Men’s National Futsal Team Record historic win in World Cup Qualifiers.

in Features

Gibraltar’s Men’s National Futsal Team travelled to Germany in April for their much-anticipated FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, on the back of a resurgent and successful domestic futsal season.

At the draw, Gibraltar had been placed in Group A of UEFA’s Preliminary Futsal World Cup Qualifiers against familiar opposition in Montenegro and San Marino and a somewhat ‘unknown’ in Germany who are an extremely ‘young’ Futsal national team hence their presence at this stage of the tournament. 

As group hosts, the DFB (German FA) had chosen the CU Arena in Hamburg, a two thousand capacity indoor venue, and as the fixtures were released, Gibraltar would have the daunting challenge of facing their German hosts first up. 

Despite not having a rich history in international Futsal, the Germans are undoubtedly a team on the up, intent on climbing up the world rankings as quickly as possible, and in the Group A opener, in front of their home crowd, they wanted to put on a show. 3-0 up at half time, they went on to an 8-0 win over Gibraltar, but none the less Gibraltar’s squad were not to down as they had their sights set on more important matters later on in the week. 

Second up for Gibraltar was Montenegro, no strangers to Gibraltar and who were the second favourites, alongside Germany, to make it through Group A of the World Cup Preliminary Qualifiers. True to form they proved to be tough opponents for Gibraltar, running out 5-0 winners as Gibraltar had Jaydan Parody sent off in the final staged of the match, ruling him out of the final group game. 

Despite being on the wrong end of the score lines in the opening two qualifiers, Gibraltar were still totally focussed on their key target for the week, the third match which would see them take on San Marino. This was the one fixture that Head Coach Jose Carlos Gil Prieto and his coaching staff had targeted and aimed for, despite the progression made by San Marino’s on the International Futsal scene.

Without the suspended Jaydan Parody, Gibraltar began with Mark Moxham in goal, Nick Castle, Kieron Garcia, Jamie Bosio and Andrew Lopez as the starting 5 with Joseph Nahon, Chris Remorino, Aiman Mkerref, Jamie Fortuna, Noufal El Andaloussi, Zane Holgado, Guy Olivero and Ashley Rodriguez primed and ready to come off the bench.

At half time, San Marino were 1-0 up thanks to an 11th minute Busignani strike leaving Gibraltar with a mountain to climb in the second half. In the 25th minute Jamie Bosio set up Noufal El Andaloussi who made it 1-1. Fifteen minutes to go and all to play for. In the 36th minute, Kieron Garcia was brought down on the halfway line. Garcia took the free kick quickly and played in El Andaloussi who slotted home Gibraltar’s second expertly past the San Marino Goalkeeper. 

Gibraltar had turned the game on its head in a little over ten minutes. A nervy last five minutes followed, which seemed like an eternity (as in futsal the clock stops as the ball goes out of play) but Moxham stood firm in the Gibraltar goal and as the final whistle went Gibraltar recorded a historic away in in a Futsal World Cup Qualifier. 

The win against San Marino meant Gibraltar finished Group A in third place, on three points behind Germany and Montenegro, who both progress into the main round of UEFA’s Futsal World Cup Qualifiers. 

The second half comeback against San Marino saw Gibraltar reach their aim of winning one of their three tough fixtures and in doing so bring home plenty of positives to build on as international Futsal across all of UEFA’s Member Nations keeps on growing and growing.   

Gibraltar Football Association

in Features

Working partnership between the Gibraltar Football Association and the Care Agency kicks off.   

A working partnership between the Gibraltar FA and the Care Agency kicked off on the 23rd February 2022.

The partnership, which has involved a great deal of background work and preparation put in, sees the Gibraltar FA assisting in the Care Agency’s weekly Physical Development sessions on Wednesday mornings at the Victoria Stadium Sports Hall. 

The aim of this partnership programme is to empower the individual to optimise their full potential. By working collaboratively to provide the best possible support to the community, we also improve the understanding of people with learning disabilities. 

As a result all service users from the Care Agency’s Disability Service, St Bernadette’s Resource Centre and Dr Giraldi Home who attend the sessions will take part in football themed activities, run by Gibraltar FA Coaches and staff alongside the Care Agency’s wonderful team. 

The weekly sessions are aimed at engaging the service users in a number of different skills such as shooting, catching, attempting drills, running and most importantly, having fun and ensuring everyone attending has enjoys themselves. 

The Gibraltar FA has also provided each of the service users with Gibraltar National Team kit which many of the participants wear with huge passion pride as they come to their football sessions on Wednesday mornings at Victoria Stadium Sports Hall. 

As part of the partnership, The Gibraltar FA will also look to coach interested carers, as part of the Associations Coach Education Programme. 

Speaking about the launch of the partnership with the Care Agency, Gibraltar FA General secretary Ivan Robba said: 

“The Gibraltar FA is delighted to be contributing very practically to the aims and objectives of the Care Agency. We expect this to be one of many initiatives which form part of our football for good strategy. Our coaches enjoyed the interaction with the service users and working with the carers created a great fun environment which we will build on.”

The Gibraltar FA would like to thank the Minister for Equality and Social Services, The Hon Samantha Sacramento MP and the Care Agency for their commitment to bringing this partnership together. 

Cheltenham Festival

in Sport Insight

FOUR DAYS OF PURE RACING BLISS

SPRING has sprung, March has arrived and the Cotswolds is once again buzzing as it’s about to unveil the annual Cheltenham Festival, the finest four days of National Hunt racing anywhere in the world. Forget imposters Royal Ascot, Kentucky, Breeders Cup and Arc weekends – all pygmies that pull up short when pitted against this iconic extravaganza, a spectacular coming together in glorious friendly combat of the greatest jumping thoroughbreds of Britain and Ireland. With the spectre of Covid-19 receding and restrictions being lifted, the sold-out signs are already up, as punters in their thousands from all corners of the home nations and beyond prepare to partake in the annual pilgrimage to Prestbury Park and indulge their love affair with the sport of kings.

Twenty-eight races, seven on each of the four days, herald the intense rivalry between British trainers and their counterparts crossing the Irish Sea to duel for the Prestbury Cup, the prestigious prize awarded to the winning nation. Last year, the Brits were routed 23-5, and, if current betting shows are an accurate reflection, this renewal could well turn out to be more of the same.

Having a flutter adds immensely to the festival fun, and I have put together a bet involving the four championship races – the Arkle, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother and the Gold Cup – along with the ever-popular Stayers Hurdle. The wager is called a Super Yankee or, curiously, it is also known as a Canadian and consists of various combinations totalling 26 bets. Come with me while we have a look at the action, and good fortune if you choose to invest.

THE ARKLE 

(Tuesday 15th March – 15:10 CET)

OPPORTUNITY knocks for the novices of the jumps game to follow in the hallowed hoofprints of the immortal Arkle who this race commemorates, by far and beyond the greatest steed since Pegasus to fly a fence. While none of the current batch of youngsters is destined to attain such fame, this race offers realistic hope of victory to beleaguered British trainers who have routinely suffered ignominious thrashings by routinely falling under the flailing hooves of the Irish invaders. My selection EDWARDSTONE, trained by Alan King at Barbury Stables in Wiltshire, has been most impressive in winning his last four chases and I’m more than hopeful that “Eddy” can see off the visitors and produce a home victory – a rare event indeed!

CHAMPION HURDLE 

(Tuesday 15th March – 16:30 CET)

BEING an unashamed honours graduate of the Fred Flintstone Caveman Academy,  my views on female emancipation do not include giving lasses the leg-up on any selection carrying my hard-earned dosh, a stance that sees me perched on the horns of a double dilemma, as not alone will my selection be ridden in my favourite festival race by a jockette, but the beast itself is also a member of the fair sex. Fragrant HONEYSUCKE, yet to taste defeat in 14 races, will be ridden by lovely Rachael Blackmore and the pair, successful in this race last year, will be seeking to repeat the feat and retain the crown this time round. Not only was Rachael the first female to ride the Champion Hurdle winner but the Tipperary girl went on to secure the Top Rider prize over the four days, and a month later sensationally became the first woman to ride the winner of the Grand National. The pity was that due to Covd-19 restrictions this ground-breaking event was achieved in front of a virtually deserted grandstand. HONEYSUCKLE and Rachael  are short-priced favourites to do the double and should they be successful the famed Cheltenham Festival roar will carry all the way to Casemates.

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE 

(Wednesday 16th March – 16:30 CET)

EAGERLY anticipated rematch between SHISHKIN, trained in England by Nicky Henderson and Energumene, the hope of Ireland, trained by maestro Willie Mullins, the pair having memorably  clashed at Ascot six weeks previously when SHISHKIN narrowly prevailed in a race described by legendary punter Harry Findlay as “the greatest ever”.  Well, I reckon Harry must have had a fair few quid on the winner to warrant such an accolade, but it was undoubtedly a fantastic spectacle and the prospect of the renewal quickens the pulse, a contest in which I expect SHISHKIN to confirm his superiority and keep the prize at home.

STAYERS LONG DISTANCE HURDLE 

(Thursday 17th March – 16:30 CET)

THE STAYERS – possibly the most popular race of the entire meeting, mainly because the same faces turn up year after year and the public get to know and love them. The classy CHAMP, another star trained by Nicky Henderson, has been burdened with my selection and I can picture the green and gold hoops of owner JP McManus coming late and fast up the Cheltenham Hill to scoop the pot.

CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP  

(Friday 18th March – 16:30 CET)

THE CHELTENHAM Gold Cup, the holy grail of steeplechasing, is the highlight of final day of the festival. It’s dangerous to be dogmatic about which steed will hit the winning line first, as my bank account bears cruel testimony, but I believe beyond reasonable doubt the Cheltenham Gold Cup will once again be making the crossing to the Emerald Isle, but the burning question is which of the Irish legion of runners will be the victor. A PLUS TARD is the one for me. Hopefully, it will round off the last leg of our Super Yankee beautifully. And then it’s off to the bar. Cheers!

WHO WILL RULE THE ROCK?

in Features

Lee Prickman and Francis Becerra have been handed wild card places at the BetVictor Gibraltar Open in March.

The two wild cards, nominated by the Gibraltar Billiards and Snooker Association, will be in the field for the world ranking event which runs from March 24 to 26 at the Europa Sports Complex.

Tickets on sale now at www.buytickets.gi and it’s a fantastic opportunity to see many of the world’s most decorated players. The full line up will be announced in March.

The tournament has been running since 2015, when it was won by Hong Kong’s Marco Fu. Shaun Murphy, Ryan Day and Stuart Bingham lifted the trophy in the following three years, then in 2020 and 2021 the event was dominated by Judd Trump.

A spokesman for WST said: “We are thrilled to be heading back to Gibraltar, one of our favourite locations on the global circuit. After missing out on the trip last year it will be exciting to return, especially for the players who love the atmosphere and beaches of Gibraltar as well as the superb snooker venue.

“And for the fans it’s an incredible opportunity to see a wide range of the best cue kings on the planet. The full line up of players will be announced in due course.”

The Ministry of Sport is thrilled to host this event once again and promises to deliver a spectacular show for the spectators of this great sport.

This year’s tournament is the eighth and final event in the BetVictor Snooker Series which has been running throughout the 2021/22 season. The player who tops the unique ranking list for those eight events will earn a massive £150,000 bonus.

February Internationals kick off a busy Year for Women’s football on the International Scene.

in Sport Insight

Gibraltar’s Women’s National Team kicked off a busy year for Women’s Football on the international scene, with two international Friendlies in February, away in Andorra and then at home to the Faroe Islands. 

The two friendlies were part of the February FIFA international Window for Women’s Football and gave Gibraltar Head Coach, Janssen Olivero, a much-needed test against for his young Gibraltar squad against two very tough opponents, as he looks to build his team up towards entering UEFA’s next European Qualifiers. 

First up was Andorra away, on the 16th February, in what proved to be a game of two halves in the Estadi Nacional in Andorra La Vella. After a bad start, Gibraltar somehow managed to find themselves 4-0 down and shellshocked before a bursting run by Pizzarello down the left-hand side, where she took the ball from inside her own penalty area, ripping through the Andorran defence, before crossing for Joelle Gilbert to slot home Gibraltar’s only goal of the game. 

At half time, Janssen Olivero rallied his team, and made some crucial tactical changes before sending the Women’s Team out in the second half with nothing to lose. And they did not disappoint dominating the second half. Despite the 4-1 at the final whistle,  Gibraltar had taken control of the of the game after the interval and even though they could not break through a solid Andorran defence their determination and desire was there for all to see. The result slightly flattered the hosts, however valuable lessons were learnt, most importantly that at international level any mistakes made are punished by the opposition.

Gibraltar’s Women then returned to the Victoria Stadium to face the Faroe Islands on Sunday 20th February putting on a much better performance, in front of their home crowd, against much tougher opposition despite having injuries to key players Pizzarello and Doody.  

Playing on the counter with quick, aggressive forward running thanks to the speed of Joelle Gilbert, Shania Robba and Reighann Olivero, Gibraltar were always a threat to their Faroese opponents, who only won the game thanks to a misplaced pass which was picked up on by Mortenson who fired home the only goal of the game.  

Again, despite the score line, Gibraltar looked much more confident with plenty of youngsters on show and gaining valuable international experience. And Ellie Mason, playing international football for the first time slotted straight into the heart of the team bringing with her all her knowledge and expertise from playing professionally in the Championship, in England, with Lewes FC. 

After the two matches, Head Coach Janssen Olivero was happy with the week, despite the score lines, saying:

 “We faced an opposition who have come up against some top nations and are involved in World Cup Qualifiers against some of the toughest nations there are in Women’s Football.”

“It’s a massive step up for us. We put a lot of emphasis on a different style of play and it showed the versatility that these players have. Today I thought we found the right balance of solid at the back whilst also being a threat going forward.”

The attention, on the international scene, now turns to Futsal, with Gibraltar’s Women’s Futsal National Team who are set to host Moldova, Slovakia and Belgium in the Preliminary Round of the UEFA Women’s Futsal Euros at the Tercentenary Hall in May with the tournament schedule to be announced very shortly. 

Gibraltar FA Club Assistance Programme & Mental Health First Aid Officer

in Sport Insight

CAP aims to raise awareness and to provide help to players and club personnel who may be suffering from mental health and behavioural issues through a confidential counselling service deigned to assist individuals in making fundamental and positive changes in their way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. 

As well as counselling sessions, CAP will also provide the opportunity for each club to appoint a Mental Health First Aid Officer. Once appointed, this person would receive training by Club House Gibraltar funded by the Gibraltar FA and importantly, the role of the Club Mental Health First Aid Officer will become a mandatory part of the Domestic Club Licensing Regulations as from season 2023/24.

Furthermore, the Gibraltar FA will also be providing mental health awareness courses, which all club coaches will be encouraged to attend, aimed at training coaches and staff members to spot the signs of any potential behavioural and mental health issues in players of all ages.  

The Gibraltar FA is ready to enrol individuals on these courses, which will be valid for three 3 years, when refresher courses will be on offer to renew certifications.

The CAP programme will also be used as part of the reintegration process for any players or club officials who have received large suspensions for offences they have committed on the field of play. More details of this part of the programme will be published in the Gibraltar FA’s Disciplinary Regulations in due course. 

General Secretary Ivan Robba commented:

Statistically one in four people experience mental health issues, meaning that within the Gibraltarian footballing community, there is likely to be a significant number of individuals who are suffering. 

We, as an Association, are determined to use football as a force for good in our community and we a are committed to helping our members, our players, our coaches and all of our clubs’ staff and representatives as much as we can. With the launch of our CAP, if anyone is in unfortunate need of such help the right framework is now in place for individuals to receive confidential and professional help and assistance.”  

The Gibraltar FA’s Human Resources Manager, Julian Valverde has been instrumental in setting up this project and added:  

“Mental health has always been very much of a taboo topic in society. Having experienced issues myself I know first-hand how lonely one can feel whilst suffering We all have our own demons that we sometimes battle silently. If there is one piece of advice I can give anyone is that you are not alone, support is out there, and talking about it really does help.  This is essentially why we have introduced CAP, to offer footballers in Gibraltar somewhere private and confidential to turn to if they find themselves in need of help, support or someone to open up to.”

Youth Football Christmas Tournament

in Sport Insight

Proves to be a great success

Ahead of the festive break, the Gibraltar Football Association organised a very successful Christmas Tournament for all of Gibraltar’s young footballers from the ages of six to sixteen. 

Under the guidance of the association’s new Youth Football leadership team, the weekend long tournament was centered around a community and family atmosphere with fun themed activities on offer, off the pitch, in the Victoria Stadium’s MUGA area as well as food and refreshment provided for all players taking part in the tournament. The aim of the weekends was a simple one – to give Gibraltar’s young footballers an enjoyable competitive footballing send-off ahead of their Christmas break.  

As is customary, at all Gibraltar FA organised youth football events and matches, Association Delegates were on hand to ensure the tournament run smoothly and First Aiders were in attendance at all times.    

In what proved to be something of a first in youth football locally, in recent times, the strongest teams in certain age groups were moved up a ‘level’ (age group) to play against older children. This would allow them to challenge their skill sets and also to make each tournament more and more competitive. 

Depending on the amount of teams and players, each age group had its own bespoke tournament in the traditional 5 or 7 aside formats and tailored at giving each team the maximum amount of playing time.  

Tournament organisers Scott Wiseman and Jansen Moreno were delighted with the way the tournament and weekend as a whole went, with over 400 youngsters taking part across all the different age groups, and are already looking at laying the groundwork for future tournaments throughout year and commented:

“On behalf of everyone at the Gibraltar FA, we would like to thank everyone involved in the tournament for making the weekend so successful and especially to our match officials, referees and delegates who dealt with the whole weekend programme tremendously given the different formats, age groups and matches. 

A huge thanks must also go to our clubs who instantly bought into the idea and to all of the parents for supporting the tournament throughout the weekend. We are already looking at how we can incorporate tournaments like this on a more regular basis throughout this year and beyond so that we can begin to ensure our youngsters are playing as much football as possible.”

QATAR WORLD CUP DOMINATES 2022

in Sport Insight

AND GIBRALTAR CELEBRATES NATIONS LEAGUE PROMOTION

Suffice to say the application of cash and liberal distribution of extra-large brown envelopes to recipients who continue to remain anonymous are rumoured to have played a part in Qatar getting the nod – a decision that has resulted in the tournament being switched from its traditional summer schedule and searing 48-centigrade degree heat to a much more manageable December climate, consequently effecting a mid-winter suspension of major European domestic football competitions – boy, those inducements must have been very bulky indeed!

Away from the less than fragrant whiff of politics and corruption and on to the playing field, England qualified for the finals with consummate ease and may yet be joined in April’s group draw by either Wales or Scotland who have been drawn in the same playoff pool with Austria and Ukraine, with just one nation progressing.

Red-hot World Cup action from Qatar’s seven newly built air-conditioned stadia in December, with kick-offs at boozer-friendly times of 16:00 and 20:00 (CET), mixed with the Christmas jingle bells is quite an intoxicating prospect, so lets get ready to rock and roll! Bung the missus an extra few quid for the shopping and get down the pub! 

FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup

21st November – 18th December

ON THE HOME FRONT, pandemic permitting, Gibraltar can look forward to an exciting sports calendar, with football and darts topping the tasty menu.

Fresh from promotion to League C of the UEFA Nations League – a remarkable achievement that, sadly, received little fanfare, Julio César Ribas’s boys have been drawn in a far from formidable group containing Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Georgia, and the prospect of a positive points haul is much more realistic this time round than the recent World Cup campaign. Yes, Gibraltar’s Qatar 2022 qualification record of Played 10, Lost 10,  goals for 4, goals conceded 43, at first glance appears to be poor, but that would be a tad harsh as the opposition contained world superpower the Netherlands along with top class footy nations  Norway and Turkey, and there is little of that calibre to fear here.

The action kicks off with a helter-skelter schedule of four matches in June, starting with an away trip to Georgia, followed by two home ties when the visitors to the Victoria Stadium are North Macedonia and four days later group favourites Bulgaria come calling, with the fortnight’s frenetic action concluding with the reverse fixture to North Macedonia. Gibraltar will be seeking a first win against all three opponents, having played Georgia four times, North Macedonia twice and Bulgaria once, battling gamely but ultimately tasting defeat in all seven ties – but let’s not be too despondent, points can be gained in this group, especially in the home games.

Whatever the on-field results, the prime return for Gibraltar is continuing to introduce The Rock to the rest of the world through international competition – everybody is familiar with the Rock of Gibraltar – an iconic picture postcard destination that all have heard of but not that many have visited, a sun-kissed paradise, with a friendly populace eager to explore the wider world of sport, blessed with a first-class but sadly under-used airport. The curse of Covid has just delayed but definitely not derailed Visit Gibraltar, and sport continues to light the path in opening up hitherto seldom crossed frontiers.

Gibraltar’s 2022 UEFA Nations League
Fixtures

Thursday June 2nd Georgia v Gibraltar KO 17:00

Sunday June 5th Gibraltar v North Macedonia KO 17:00

Thursday June 9th Gibraltar v Bulgaria KO 19:45

Sunday June 12th North Macedonia v Gibraltar KO 17:00

Friday Sept 23rd  Bulgaria v Gibraltar KO 19:45

Monday Sept 26th Gibraltar v Georgia KO 19:45

THE PDC European Darts Tour reaches an exciting finale on the Rock next autumn when the world’s top-ranked arrowsmiths step up to the ‘oche’ in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy that is due to be staged at Victoria Stadium. 

World Number One and defending champion Gerwyn Price will be a short-priced favourite to retain the trophy and grab the lion’s share of the £140,000 prize fund, though the ex-rugby league star can expect stern slings and arrows from fellow Welshman Johnny Clayton, Dutch master “Mighty Mike” van Gerwen, Scottish duo Gary Anderson and Peter “The Parrot” Wright, plus Scouser and regular Rock visitor Stephen “The Bullet” Bunting.

A refreshing feature evident when the darts kingpins come visiting is their willingness to explore the Rock and mix freely with the locals, unlike stars of other sports who choose to stay aloof in their hotel rooms, often flying out immediately after their event has concluded. I well remember two years ago, Gerwyn Price, who a few months later would be crowned world champion, and who glories in the role of pantomime villain, sat at the bar in the Sports Arena, chatting amiably to everyone, and a few months ago, I was lucky enough to be in my local, The Quarterdeck Tavern, when Stephen Bunting wandered in with his charming family and regaled us for a couple of hours with derring-do tales from the world of darts. No prima donnas among these darting sharpshooters!

Gibraltar Darts Trophy

14-16th October – Victoria Stadium

The sports story of 2021

in Features/Sport Insight

A year of tears, fears and recovery

PLANET Earth’s struggle to shed the shackles of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic is at last showing signs of success and, as always, sport leads the way on the road back to normality. Come with me as we take a look at the highs and lows of this desperate year.

JANUARY

3rd: Death of Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers, forever synonymous with what is probably the world’s best known football anthem, Liverpool FC’s You’ll Never Walk Alone, passed away aged 78 after a short illness, believed to be cardiac related.

Darts crowned the year’s first world champion when Wales’s Gerwyn Price secured the PDC title for the first time, the pugnacious ex-rugby league star comfortably overcoming Scotland’s Gary Anderson 7-3 at London’s Ally Pally.

25th: Chelsea sack coach and club legend Frank Lampard.

FEBRUARY

5th: Scotland win rugby’s Calcutta Cup, stunning England 11-6 and ending 38 years of anguish since Bonnie Prince Charley’s troops last prevailed over the ‘auld enemy’ at Twickenham.

7th: Tampa Bay Buccaneers upset defending champions Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 to lift the Super  Bowl. A 30-second TV advert during the event cost an astonishing £4 million.

20th: Japan’s Naomi Osaka won her second Australia Open beating American Jennifer Brady in straight sets in the women’s final in Melbourne.

21st: Novak Djokovic outclassed Russian Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win his ninth Australian Tennis Open.

27th: Wales wallop England 40-24 in Cardiff  to win rugby union’s Triple Crown for the 22nd time in an exciting game marred by some controversial refereeing decisions.

MARCH

1st: Liverpool icon and legendary TV sports presenter Ian St John passed away after a long illness, aged 82.

7th: Snooker’s world number one Judd Trump retained his Gibraltar Open crown, whitewashing Jack Lisowski 4-0 in the final that, because of Covid lockdown, had been switched to Milton Keynes.

13th: One of boxing’s true greats ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler passes away, the fearsome shaven-headed legend is counted out at age 66.

16th: Rachael Blackmore, riding Honeysuckle, becomes the first female to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Charismatic Rachael went on to finish top rider at the festival.

19th: The Cheltenham Gold Cup returned to Ireland as Minella Indo, ridden by Jack Kennedy at odds of  9/1, won steeplechasing’s Blue Riband event.

20th: Death claimed Leeds United legend Peter “Hotshot” Lorimer, aged 74.

24th: Gibraltar’s international goalkeeper Dayle Edward Coeling, who at the time plied his trade with Irish club Glentoran, made Fifa’s Team of the Round, following a truly herculean performance for his country in the 3-0 World Cup qualifier loss to Norway at the Victoria Stadium.

26th: Wales are confirmed as rugby union’s Six Nations champions when closest opponents France were sensationally beaten 23-27 in Paris by Scotland.

27th: Gibraltar was the venue as Londoner Dillian Whyte avenged last year’s surprise defeat to Alexander Petovkin in the Rumble on the Rock rematch, impressively stopping the Russian in the 4th round.

APRIL

10th: Three weeks after becoming top rider at the Cheltenham Festival, Rachael Blackmore created further history by becoming the first female to win the Grand National, the Tipperary girl giving a masterful performance on board 11/1 shot Minella Times.

11th: Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese golfer to win a Major title, sparking wild celebration in his native nation when the 29-year-old donned the famous green jacket of The Masters at Augusta.

25th: Manchester City created history when winning the Cariboo League Cup for the fourth time in a row, beating woeful Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in a disappointing Wembley final, at which Covid-19 restrictions had been lifted sufficiently to allow 8,000 spectators to attend..

MAY

3rd: Mark Selby won his fourth World Snooker Championship, the 38-year-old Leicester man comfortably defeating Shaun Murphy 18-15 at Sheffield’s Crucible. 

11th: Manchester City are crowned Premier League champions with three games to spare when nearest pursuers Manchester United are beaten at home by Leicester, making it mathematically impossible for Pep Guardiola’s brilliant side to be caught.

15th Leicester City won the FA Cup for the first time, beating Chelsea 1-0 in the final at Wembley.

26th: Heartache for the Red Devils as Villareal snatch the Europa League Cup from Manchester United’s grasp after an unforgettable 11-10 penalty shootout in the final at Gdansk, Poland.

29th: Underdogs Chelsea win their second Champions League title, stunning Manchester City 1-0 in the final in Oporto, Portugal.

JUNE

5th Adayar wins the Epsom Derby at 16/1, giving jockey Adam Kirby his first success in the classic.

12th Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic was a surprise winner of  the French Ladies Tennis Open, beating Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final.

13th Peerless Serb Novak Djokovic roared back from two sets down to win the French Men’s Open, his 19th grand slam, overcoming Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic five-set final.

20th Spanish golfer Jon Rahm nets his first major title when winning the US Open at Torrey Pines.

JULY

10th Australian Ash Barty was crowned Wimbledon Ladies champion beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in an entertaining three-set final.

11th: Novak Djokovic claimed his 20th Grand Slam when capturing  the Wimbledon Men’s title, outpointing promising Italian Matteo Berrettini in a four-set final.

Heartbreak for England as Italy come from behind to win the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 final at Wembley, the Three Lions succumbing on penalties after extra-time, their old bogey, spotkicks, once again proving their downfall.

18th: American Collin Morikawa captures the British Open golf championship at Royal St George’s with an impressive 15-under par total taking him two shots clear of the field.

Lewis Hamilton overcame a 10-second penalty, imposed  for a shunt that put chief rival Max Verstappen out of the race and taken to hospital, to controversially win the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone.

23rd: The 2020 Summer Olympics finally got underway in Tokyo after being delayed for a year by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

August

7th: South Africa rather fortuitously sealed a 2-1 series win over the touring British and Irish Lions with a gritty 19-16 victory in the final Test in Capetown.

8th: The curtain came down on the Tokyo Olympics and, despite the restrictions imposed to combat Covid-19 resulting in mainly spectatorless events, there were many sparkling performances. Team GB equalled the total medal haul of 65 achieved in the London 2012 Games.

11th: Chelsea added the European Super Cup to their Champions League title, beating Villareal at Windsor Park Belfast. The match had ended 1-1 after extra time and the Londoners held their nerve to pip the Spanish side 6-5 in a bottom-clenching penalty shootout.

25th: Fondly remembered as Lord Ted, former England cricket captain Ted Dexter passed away, aged 86.

SEPTEMBER

5th: Gibraltar celebrated as local rower Jack Prior helped Team GB win the European U23 Eight Rowing Championship in Kruszwica, Poland.

The 2020 Tokyo Paralympics concluded with Team GB amassing an outstanding haul of 124 medals, a total that saw the Brits finish second in the overall medal table, behind China but ahead of both the United States and Russia.

11th: Bromley schoolgirl Emma Raducanu astonished the tennis world by winning the US Open, the 18-year-old qualifier incredibly capturing the title in New York without conceding a single set in her fairytale 10-match run to glory.

12th: Russian Daniil Medvedev ended Novak Djokovic’s brave bid to win all four slams in a calendar year when beating the great Serb in straight sets in the US Open final.

19th: One of football’s brightest stars was extinguished as England and Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves passed away, aged 81.

26th: Team USA trashed Europe 19-9 when regaining the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, serving ominous notice that Uncle Sam’s youngsters look assured to arrest Europe’s dominance of recent years.

OCTOBER

9th: Tyson Fury survived two 4th Round knockdowns to stop  Deontay Wilder in the 11th in Las Vegas, completing a  clean sweep for the Gypsy King in the fight trilogy between the two warriors. Surely there won’t be a Fury-Wilder-4, they’re catching up Rocky!

10th: France come from behind to beat Spain 2-1 in a high-quality Euro Nations League final in the San Siro, Milan.

26th: Revered Rangers and Scotland ex-player and manager Walter Smith passes away, aged 73.

NOVEMBER

11th: Steven Gerrard announced as Aston Villa manager after a very successful spell resurrecting Glasgow Rangers’ fortunes.

14th: Australia win cricket’s ICC T20 World Cup for the first time, chasing down a record target of 179 to beat neighbours New Zealand in the final in Dubai.

Word by Roger Shrapnel


How do you define the values of a sport?

We all understand the concept of fair play in sports, but the international rugby community has always prided itself on something more than just that. Defining those values is difficult but worthwhile and a number of rugby organisations, from the national bodies and unions down to individual clubs, have taken the time and effort to do just that, especially over the last couple of decades as the concept of ‘rugby values’ have become more, well, valued. This has given us a rich variety of value sets across the rugby planet, each with their own cultural take on the matter but, by and large, they are generally similar. 

Incidentally, one of the beauties of having a consistent set of values across the globe is that no matter where you end up, if you want to play or watch rugby you will be doing with likeminded people who will welcome you, even if you’re wearing the opposition colours!

So what are these rugby values and how do they fit in with rugby in Gibraltar?

Recently, Gibraltar Rugby Football Union underwent a restructuring programme and, as part of this, they set down their own set of rugby core values using the acronym R.I.D.E.; Respect, Inclusion, Discipline, Enjoyment. And on the surface of it, that sounds quite neat, but it is worth considering the impact of these values and their effect, not only in rugby but in the wider community that lives on the Rock and beyond.

The enjoyment experienced by the participants, coaches and many volunteers that make up Gibraltar rugby could be regarded as the ‘pay-off’ of the other three elements that make up the GRFU’s rugby values system. Certainly, given the numbers and recent growth, not just in players but in qualified coaches as well, there is plenty of evidence that people are enjoying themselves. On a Saturday morning you will regularly see around two hundred children, from 2 years old to under 17s, training and playing on the rugby pitches at Europa Sports Complex.

The GRFU is rightly proud of these numbers and it is the inclusiveness that you see in rugby which helps drive this. Rugby is often said to be a game for all shapes and sizes so any new player that turns up is welcomed with open arms. The sport is very good at finding your special talent or strength and developing it so that you become an essential part of the team. It runs deeper than that though. Go to any rugby club and you will not only find that range of body types and skill sets, but a massive diversity of people. Most teams will contain young bucks and seasoned campaigners. Coppers rub shoulders with students. Senior managers will share a pint with shop workers. You see this with the youngsters as well as they develop social networks outside of the usual school and family environment as they learn to play alongside and rely upon each other in a game.

It goes without saying that a lot of this only works with a degree of discipline. Rugby is a physically and mentally demanding sport with many specialised skill sets. The players have to be mindful of this and how they apply themselves, both in training and in the game. The reward here is that they will improve as players and develop as individuals. Rugby is often held up as a bastion of good sportsmanship and a lot of that can be attributed to the discipline and respect shown on the pitch, not least to the referee and the laws of the game. There is a wonderful story of a referee awarding penalty against a 120kg international player during a game where the player responded with a meek “Sorry, sir.” 

Respect is very much entwined with the values outlined earlier; respect for the referee but also to the opposition. Rugby has a great tradition of both teams applauding each other after the final whistle and sharing a drink with your opposite number in the clubhouse bar. 

Respect isn’t limited to just the pitch; with rugby’s natural drive to socialise, it spills over into other areas of a participant’s life. With the recent increase of both community and environmental awareness across society, volunteers from all sections are regularly involved in charitable endeavours to improve the world around them, respecting their environment and the people in it. Rock Scorpions raised money during the 2020 Movember prostate cancer awareness campaign whilst other individuals have tapped into the natural generosity of the union membership to raise money for other worthwhile causes like the Sepsis Trust or the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Benevolent Fund. The Mini and Youth section have been particularly active in this area where the players and parents have worked on more than one occasion with the Nautilus Project on environmental improvement works, like local beach clean-ups, and fundraisers for Childline.

 At a recent coach development course, where the GRFU brought in academy coaches from a Rugby Premiership club in England, the lead coach talked about developing players, especially young players, as people, not just rugby players. This is very much part of the culture within Gibraltar Rugby. Long may it remain that way.


Gibraltar’s U19s make their International Futsal Debut

Gibraltar’s Under 19s made they competitive international debut, at the beginning of November, as they hosted their UEFA U19 Futsal Euro Preliminary Round Qualifying Group at the Tercentenary Sports Hall.

Group B in the Preliminary Round, drawn earlier on in the year, would throw up North Macedonia and Montenegro as Gibraltar’s U19 Futsal Euro opponents. Interestingly, two nations who have visited the Rock in the past in various other UEFA competitions, both in football and futsal. 

Before a ball was kicked, Montenegro were arguably the pre-tournament favourites, and as had been decided by the draw, they would be up against Gibraltar first, in other words a baptism of fire for the Group hosts in international U19 Futsal. 

However, under the expert guidance of Gibraltar’s Futsal Head Coach Jose Carlos Gil Prieto, Gibraltar got off to a flying start. Spurred on by the noisy and raucous home crowd, Gibraltar were 2-0 up after 11 minutes and indeed went into the half time break 2 up. In the second half Montenegro U19s had calmed down and began to show their class. As the game developed the visitors scored 6 unanswered goals to lead 6-2. A late rally by Gibraltar saw the U19s pull one goal back to meaning their first ever international was an extremely positive 6-3 defeat. 

The second match of the tournament saw Montenegro beat North Macedonia 2-0, justifying their tag as pre-tournament favourites, meaning they clinched Group B and progressed into the main qualifying round of the UEFA U19 Futsal Euro.           

That meant the final game of the group, North Macedonia v Gibraltar was a straight shootout for second place. Once again Gibraltar’s youngsters took the lead, however this time their opponents, North Macedonia, hit back immediately and began to stamp their authority in the game racing into a 4-1 lead. With 5 minutes to go Gibraltar wrestled back the initiative pulling a goal back and immediately deploying their ‘flying’ goalkeeper. What followed was a 3-minute onslaught on the Macedonian goal, but chance after chance was squandered and wasted by the hosts. 4-2 the final score to the visitors. 

Despite the two losses, Gibraltar’s U19s have plenty of positives to take from their international bow. Many for the players in the squad are still young in the U19 age category so they will get a second chance at this level in two years’ time and their performances have proved that they can look forward to a bright futsal future!     

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