Jeux des Iles begin

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The honour of carrying the Jersey flag into the ancient arena, dating from the time of Archimedes, fell to 15-year-old sailor-turned swimmer Henry Perkins.

After the parade finished, heading north were our sailors, gymnasts, table tennis and tennis players, with the swimmers and athletes staying put.

But it was a triumph of sporting will that resulted in all the twenty-plus teams taking part this morning, such was the confusion over hotel allocations the night – and early morning – before.

With 22 islands descending on Catania airport an apparent row between the two main areas hosting the games, the capital Palermo in the north and Syracuse in the south east, resulted in utter chaos for some teams.

With Italian, French, English, Danish, Croatian, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking island teams mixed up together for the ten different sports – a laudable idea and one that certainly worked in getting the youngsters acquainted with each other – the organisers certainly didn’t need one of the hotel groups to pull out in fit of pique.

Last-minute reorganisation led to many problems.

Jersey were no exception, although they certainly got off lighter than some of the teams – like Mayotte, who threatened to turn around and go straight back to their Indian Ocean home.

Yesterday’s energy-sapping journey from Jersey started at 7 am and took in five airports, with several long coach hauls, before ending in various hotels along the south east coast not long before midnight.

Said Jersey’s group leader Hugh Raymond, at around 1 o’clock this morning: ‘It’s been a disaster.

There is apparently a huge argument between Palermo and Syracuse and toys have been thrown out of prams.

I don’t even know which hotel I’m staying in, although I do know all the team now have a roof over their heads.

‘I’ve got to say, however, that the welcome has been extremely warm and the people so helpful, but it was pure chaos tonight.’ So, not a smooth start, but initial impressions of the friendliness of the Sicilians and the other island teams lead many in the Jersey team to believe this could be a Games to remember, for more than one reason.

All the sports have technical meetings later this afternoon, with competition beginning for both tennis and table tennis tomorrow, starting with the team events.

Our tennis teams of Charlie Cohen and James Faudemer, and Katie Gouyette and Kirsten McArthur are scheduled to take on Guadeloupe and Madeira, respectively, in the opening team matches.

Jersey’s table tennis pair of Matthew Cooper and Stephen Dupays are in a group alongside Guadeloupe, Corsica, Malta, Martinique and the Azores.

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