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Isle of Man - 2001

Legacy – Isle of Man Host to the 2001 NatWest Island Games


Fast forward 10 years from 1985.

Over that decade the Isle of Man had prospered economically and one of the challenges facing Government was to ensure that the new wealth was invested for the benefit of the wider community. Sport was a major benefactor.  Phase 1 of the National Sports Centre had been completed and Government was committed to a programme to develop the new indoor facilities. At the same time the Island Games had prospered and grown from its humble beginnings. We decided that we would like to bring the Games back to their spiritual home; and to deliver a Games to set the standard for the 21st century.  After a successful bid in Gibraltar in 1995 a four year planning process began.

Q.    What do you see as the biggest legacy of hosting the NatWest Island Games on your island in 2001?

A.    It is hard to ignore the legacy in terms of facilities. Whilst the National Sports Centre was already envisaged the hosting of the 2001 NatWest Island Games ensured that there were no delays in the development timetable and provided strong defence against those who inevitably seek to compromise quality in a misconceived quest for better value.

However probably the greatest impact was a massive outpouring of national pride. Prior to 2001 the Games had happened in a community and that community had engaged with the Games. In 2001 we immersed the Games in the community and the Community in the Games.

The success of 2001 gave the Government and the community the self-belief to successfully bid for and stage the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2011. For an Island of 85,000 that was our Olympics.

Q.    What were the impacts of hosting the NatWest Island Games on sport (including venues) and physical activity on your island?

A.    It is actually quite difficult to isolate the impacts because we deliberately set out from day one to ensure that NatWest Island Games 2001 were not a stand-alone event but part of an integrated programme to take sport forward into the 21st century; a programme with key targets around participation, excellence, social inclusion and community cohesion. The lessons of 1985 around legacy had well and truly been learned. The outcomes of that whole programme with the 2001 Games as an integral part included:-

•    Participation levels at all age groups way above UK national benchmarks
•    Programmes tracking participation against measureable juvenile crime reduction
•    Highest per capita participation in Team GB at Olympic level
•    Development of the Manx Youth Games which every year introduces over 1000 youngsters to a new sporting activity.
•    Development of an Isle of Man Sport Institute for elite competitors
•    International recognition by the European Capital of Sport programme
•    Massive national pride in Manx sport and its individual and collective achievements

Q.    Did hosting the Games in 2001 influence the popularity and importance of the NatWest Island Games on your island?

A.    What it did was to expand the interest in the Games beyond the sporting community and into the community at large. When our team goes to Bermuda in 2013 the whole community back home will be listening with pride and the live results service will be on web browsers across the Island
Q    What were the economic impacts of hosting the NatWest Island Games on your island?

A.   Actually the 2001 Games were not set up to produce a direct and tangible profit stream.  As previously indicated we wanted to use the Games as part of a much wider and spectacularly successful programme of sports development. Depending upon how you treat the £20 million+ investment in the National Sports Centre, which was already planned, the Games broke even from an economic perspective.

Q.    What were the social impacts of hosting the NatWest Island Games, particularly in terms of volunteering, the cultural sector and community engagement?

A.   Volunteering was an enormous feature of NatWest Island Games 2001 and in stark contrast to 1985 when the volunteers had come from the sporting community, this time participation was community wide. As previously indicated the community was totally engaged, or really immersed, in the Games. The local radio station rebranded itself as 'Games Radio' and the community happened around the Games (rather than as previously the Games happened around the community). Another lesson from 1985 was that we tried to expose our guests to the culture; not easy with such an intense seven day sports programme.

All of this we took to another level in 2011 with the Commonwealth Youth Games; but it was the success of NatWest Island Games 2001 which gave us the confidence and vision to do so.