There’s no better time than the present to pick up a new sport – and while this may always hold true, if you choose to do so right now there’s a good chance you’ll be joining other like-minded enthusiasts as you put your new year’s resolutions into practice.
We all know the multitude of options available for anyone who’s looking to get involved, with dozens of associations around the rock eager to welcome new members. From football and netball, to basketball, athletics, table tennis and gymnastics – there’s something for everyone as we like to say, but a couple of sports in particular have caught the eye recently in Gibraltar, as they force their way into the mainstream..
First off: there probably aren’t many offices left on the rock that don’t have at least one or two padel players among the workforce. Styled as ‘the fastest growing sport on the planet’, this claim certainly seems to have some substance on the Rock, with over 200 players expressing their interest in formally setting up an independent association for the sport over the last couple of months.
Their most recent tournament was well attended, with Amos Federico and Johann Valverde coming away with top prize, but the greatest success was the enthusiasm shown across the board. The fledgling association are in the process of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s as they make their presence on the Rock official, and will welcome anyone who would like to pick up a racket and have a go!
Elsewhere, Gibraltar’s newest sports installation could hardly have hoped for a better start to life, with hundreds if not thousands taking to the walls of the new bouldering park in its first six months of existence. While Gibraltar lost a sport in ice skating as the Rock’s only ice rink was lifted to make way for the new park, it’s hard to argue against the decision when there has been such keen uptake for bouldering since the switch (added to the fact that the new park is significantly less costly to maintain).
With the next closest facility of its kind situated in Malaga, the park has been a godsend for Gibraltar’s existing climbing community, with a dozens of ‘problems’ as they’re referred to, dotted across the many walls above the cushioned floors below.
Gibraltar’s first ever bouldering competition was held here last month, with organisers keen to attract newcomers and grow their membership. It’s something a little different to what’s already out there, but a must for thrill-seekers and anyone else whose interest may be piqued by the idea; a great workout, and there’s a healthy community of climbers waiting to welcome you into the fold.
Back in the world of football, Lincoln Red Imps bowed out of the UEFA Conference League without managing to pick up any elusive points in their group fixtures. They come back home with a couple of goals for their troubles, but more than that, they’ve experienced a real taste of the magic that midweek European football can bring. The hostility of opposition fans, the flares, the atmosphere in away games – this experience will have been a real eye-opener for many Lincoln players and one they will be desperate to experience again in years to come.
The Red Imps have set a very high bar with their exploits this year – Captain Roy Chipolina observed ahead of the final match against Greek side PAOK that we may not realise for some time just what an achievement this has been – only time will tell whether this has been a one-off or whether the Conference League is a realistic aim for Gibraltarian sides, year in, year out.
Last month also signalled the end of fan favourite, Kyle Goldwin’s playing career. A late bloomer, the Lincoln keeper bows out to spend more time with his family, and the local footballing scene will miss the passion and drive this man always brought to his game. Goldwin established himself as a cult hero during a golden run of games in the Gibraltar shirt, with a string of performances endearing him to fans, as he celebrated one seemingly impossible save after another as if every one were a goal. A well-earned retirement and some wonderful memories for him to look back on.
At the other end of her career, one young women deserves a mention this month: young Alex Dellipiani has been named one of the 21 members of the St Albans Futures Academy, junior squad of the Saracens Mavericks, one of the biggest netballing side in the UK. The 15 year old has big aspirations and will be competing with the best; yet another example of Gibraltar’s ever improving quality on the netball court.
A few years older and more experienced, Shania Robba graced TV screens around the UK on BT Sports’ Ultimate Goal programme recently, and she was in the side that beat Liechtenstein in what was the national team’s first ever UEFA sanctioned friendly. The women’s side played two games against the visitors, with Charlyann Pizzarello slotting home after the keeper could only parry her penalty to give Gibraltar an historic 1-0 win. Liechtenstein went two ahead in the second fixture of the double header, and althought Shania and Joelle Gilbert would score two for the home side, Liechtenstein kept their noses in front with a third.