There’s been the usual August lull in the sporting calendar as the Rock’s sportsmen and women take a well-deserved break ahead of the start of their respective seasons (not to say that there haven’t been plenty of smaller sporting events and tournaments dotted around Gibraltar over the past month!).
However, we’ve had some huge news regarding both outgoing and incoming talent which will no doubt get fans excited for the future, so let’s shine some light on the recent talking points concerning Gibraltar’s two most popular sports.
First up: Tjay De Barr completed his move to Wycombe Wanderers from Lincoln Red Imps on a free transfer, marking the start of an exciting new chapter in his career. Tjay has made no secret of his desire to develop his game abroad and had a short-lived stint with Real Oviedo in 2019-2020. He returned to his boyhood club last season and won the league and cup double, but now has the opportunity to show just far his desire and ambition can take him
The 21-year-old joins a team that played in the second tier of English football last year, and although they were relegated in May, Wycombe will be aiming to make a quick return to the Championship. Tjay will hope he can get among the goals and aid their promotion bid.
That said, a spot in the starting lineup is far from guaranteed; among a number of new arrivals, Sam Vokes has also come into the club. The Welshman did struggle for form at Stoke last season, but has over 100 premier league appearances and 60+ caps to his name – no mean feat.
Tjay will also be teaming up with the ‘strongest man in football’, Adebayo Akinfenwa, with the 39 year-old signing a year-long extension in July.
One of Gibraltar’s most promising talents, his departure is our league’s loss, but the move represents the level of quality starting to come through the ranks of local football.
Elsewhere, the Netball Association has announced that Gibraltar will play host to no less than the 2025 World Youth Cup, which will see the best Under-21 players on the planet in action on the rock in four years’ time.
Last year’s Netball Europe Open Challenge was cancelled due to the pandemic and rescheduled to be played here next month; so too will we see European U17 tournament action in 2022 and 2023.
The Campions are no strangers to hosting international competitions and facing tough opponents, but on the world stage they will be rubbing shoulders with the very best young players in the sport. There also exists the tantalising (and slightly terrifying) prospect of being grouped with one of the two absolute powerhouses of international netball.
Eight World Youth Cups have been played; Australia and New Zealand have won four apiece. This will hardly surprise fans – on the senior stage, Australia has won the World Cup 11 times, New Zealand five (finishing runners up on eight occasions). In fact, Trinidad and Tobago are the only other country to have won the competition in its history, briefly breaking up the Australasian dominance back in 1979.
The Cup is still a long way away, but there could be no better motivation for our current crop of junior players to prepare for what will undoubtedly be a spectacular tournament. Netball continues to go from strength to strength in Gibraltar and it’s events like these that will capture the imagination of a generation and inspire them to continue improving the game locally.
We will be back next issue with a roundup as we get up to speed with the start of the 2021-2022 seasons!