Sport in Gibraltar
Sport plays a prominent role in Gibraltarian life. The range of sports practiced in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar is wide and varied in comparison to its size of less than 7km2. The Government of Gibraltar is committed to promote sport within The Rock and supports many local sports associations financially. Gibraltar also competes in international sporting events such as the biennial Island Games, which it hosted in 1995.
The Ministry for Sport, headed by the Minister for Culture, Heritage, Sport & Leisure, is responsible for sports policy matters and the provision of support to educational establishments and the governing bodies of sport in Gibraltar.
The Gibraltar Sports Advisory Council is set up to advise the Government of Gibraltar, through the Minister for Sport, on all matters relating to sport including:
- Capital expenditure priorities
- Allocation of grants to sporting societies
- Sports development
- International competitions
- Availability and use of sports facilities
The Government recognises the benefits derived from the Gibraltarians' participation in sports and other recreational activities. Therefore, particular importance is given to the availability of facilities for the practice of these sports as well as making these available to anyone for booking allocations free of charge.
There is a large number of sport facilities in Gibraltar, of varying standards. These provide opportunities for locals and visitors alike to enjoy sport recreationally as well as professionally for the serious sport enthusiasts, where they can improve standards and have the opportunity to participate in local and international events.
The main sport facilities in Gibraltar are the multi-purpose Victoria Stadium and the Tercentenary Sports Centre. These include facilities such as artificial turf football pitches, water-based hockey fields, tennis and padel tennis courts, athletics fields, archery practice range, cricket fields, squash courts, golf practice range, climbing wall and multi-purpose sports halls for basketball, badminton, volleyball, netball, handball, five-a-side football, and martial arts among many others.
In 2007, there were eighteen sports associations in Gibraltar officially recognised by their respective international governing bodies. Others, such as the Gibraltar National Olympic Committee, have applied for international recognition which are currently being considered.
The Gibraltar Football Association applied for full membership of UEFA, but their bid was turned down in 2007 in a contentious decision in defiance of a previous Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that held that GFA should be granted membership. UEFA's rejection was due to Spain's intense lobbying and vow to boycott any event involving Gibraltar.
Cricket enjoys massive popularity in Gibraltar as the weather is perfectly suited to cricket games. As of February 2015[update], Gibraltar's national cricket team had featured in the top flight of the European Cricket Championship on four occasions, with its best finish, sixth place (out of eight teams), coming at the inaugural 1996 European Cricket Championship in Denmark. Gibraltar won Division Two at the Championships in 2000 and 2002, at a time when there was no promotion and relegation between divisions.
Basketball in Gibraltar is managed by the Gibraltar Amateur Basketball Association (GABBA). Sponsored by Grind House, Men and Ladies Grind House GABBA teams play the senior basketball league in the neighbour Spanish province of Cádiz. Grind House GABBA won the 2007/08 female championship Unlike its football counterpart, GABBA is a member of FIBA (since 1985).
Darts enjoys widespread popularity in Gibraltar with regular participation in a league organised by the Gibraltar Darts Association, which is a full member of the World Darts Federation (WDF) and regularly participates in European & World Championships. The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) is a regular visitor to Gibraltar, holding an annual tournament as one of the Players Championships.
In May 2010 Gibraltar was host nation for the Darts Mediterranean Cup. Six countries competed in the event; Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Italy, Malta and Turkey. Gibraltar won the tournament, taking its first ever gold medal.