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FOCUS: Meet Gozo... the newest member of the Island Games family

FOCUS: Meet Gozo... the newest member of the Island Games family

Thursday 29 June 2023

FOCUS: Meet Gozo... the newest member of the Island Games family

Thursday 29 June 2023


Gozo is the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago of five islands and has a population of around 39,000... and it's also the newest member of the Island Games family.

67 Gozitains will be in Guernsey next month as their home competes in the Games for the first time - with competitive interest in seven sports across the week.

There'll also be 27 supporters made up of Gozitain officials, coaches, medics and parents. 

What you need to know about Gozo

At 67 km2, Gozo is considerably larger than Guernsey with a far less dense population.

Joyce Farugia - a civil servant for the Maltese government who has been involved in Gozo's Island Games journey - said there are other similarities between the two islands which she noticed on a trip to Guernsey for last year's AGM.

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Pictured: Felicienne Cini will represent Gozo in the cycling.

Gozo is "still very rural and there aren't so many people and it's not so densely populated as Malta is," she said. 

"You can feel the charm of Gozo once you step on the island. And it is much greener, more rural. It is one third the size of Malta. So many say that Gozo is much more for the retired people or to relax, or as a holiday venue.

"When I was in Guernsey last July, I had a nostalgic experience, because you are so closely knit like we used to be till 20 years agoI had a little bit of nostalgia because we were like that...your warm hospitality, your friendliness and that sensation that you make me feel at home."

Listen: Gozo's Joyce Farugia spoke to Express about the team's journey to the Island Games.

Gozo has an average temperature of 26c during July, and is known for 'its sunny Mediterranean climate, Neolithic Ggantija temple ruins, rural hiking paths, beaches and stunning diving'.

As Malta is part of the EU, Gozo is part of the Schengen area and the Euro is the currency.

Welcome to the family! 

Gozo first applied to join the International Island Games Association in 2018 with things moving apace in 2021 when the original date for the Guernsey Games was postponed.

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Pictured: The AGM in 2022 saw Gozo welcomed to the Island Games family. 

The IIGA committee visited Gozo to tour sports facilities and to see plans for new developments.

The Minister for Gozo strongly believes that this is a unique opportunity for sports on the island and sport in Gozo can develop further and give Gozitain athletes the chance to represent their native island on the international scene,” said Ms Farugia. 

I am not a sports person myself, but I saw this as an opportunity for sports and for the Gozitan athletes where they can spread their wings. They can go and represent Gozo,” she added.  

We are all looking forward to it because when the delegation from the Island Games came over, they saw that it's going to be a state-of-the-art complex and then we had delegations from Europe as well to see this complex and everyone is looking forward to when this will be finished. We are expecting it to be finished later on this year. So, there's already that momentum and inward investment and we are so excited. 

We are looking forward but first, I want to see that these facilities are there and they're available and then we will submit our application so that we can one day host these Games. 

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Pictured: Matthew Xuereb will represent Gozo in the athletics.

Aiming high

AOlympic hopeful could be among Team Gozo’s 40 athletes in Guernsey. 

Marcello Attard was the only Gozitain selected to represent Malta at the ‘Games of Small States of Europe this year, where he won silver in the shootingHe’s been selected for the Gozo team at their first Island Games alongside his brother Marlon. 

“Wdon't know yet if Marcello does join usMarlon, his brother, is joining us and he is a good athlete too. They explained to me, in shooting you cannot predict how you are going to perform because it is something of that moment, how your mind is set,” said Ms Farugia. 

“As well as the shooting we’ve got those participating in mountain bike, table tennis, athletics, triathlon, shooting, swimming and football. We are feeling confident in shooting, especially if Marcello comes with us. But we also are seeing somvery good athletes and swimmers. 

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Pictured: David Borg will be representing Gozo in the athletics. 

The Gozo team were selected against the 2019 medal times and scores in Gibraltar 

Because it is our first experience, we didn't know what weare expecting because we didn't expect a large number of athletes that can participate in certain disciplines. But we had a fair number dwell according to these minimum qualification standards that we drafted last October,” said Ms Farugia.

When will Gozo be competing?

The Gozitain competitors will be in action throughout the week.

The athletics, football, shooting, table tennis, and triathlon events all start on Sunday 9 July.  The cycling and swimming events get started on Monday 10 July.

You can find all the latest updates on the Island Games action by signing up to Bailiwick Express's free daily news email here.

READ MORE...

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