Lockdown hasn’t all been bad. This extra-time has allowed me to recoup and re-centre myself and provide me with some opportunities which my future-self will be thankful for. Athletics is my ‘day-job’ and will hopefully be for many years to come, but inevitably there will come a time when I’ll have to hang-up my spikes and prepare for a life after running.
As an Island, we are incredibly lucky to witness an abundance of sporting success. Whilst running is my forte, football has always been a passion of mine; and I have recently warmed to the idea of writing about it.
Having keenly followed the early chapters of the FC Isle of Man story, I have become intrigued by the structure of ‘Sporting Club Isle of Man’ (SCIOM)- which oversees FC Isle of Man, and the ‘Cycling Club Isle of Man’. Being honest with you, after following the progress of the project, I wasn’t completely sure how it would all come together.
And so be it, I got in touch with Paul Jones (SCIOM Sporting Director) to gain a better understanding of its objectives and the benefits it could bring to the place I like to call home-
So, what is Sporting Club Isle of Man?
Here’s the low down. SCIOM aim to provide a sporting pathway for teams and individuals to fulfil their sporting potential. They want to make sure that the talented people we have on our island doesn’t go unnoticed and that they get opportunities to excel- A simple but encouraging message.
SCIOM will be a hub for the sports teams it owns by offering expertise, knowledge, and experience to those who are guiding the young athletes to success.
SCIOM recognised that IOM Sport already does a phenomenal job of propelling individuals to sporting achievements but felt they could do with some help when it comes to team sports. It’s a similar approach to the one FC Barcelona adopted way back in 1925. Obviously, Barcelona are famous for their glistening football team (and questionable haircuts), but they have many other highly successful sports clubs in their back pocket. It’s mad that no-one in England or Scotland currently follows this unique model. It would be great to see it implemented on our Island.
A simple analogy: SCIOM is a house, and each sport oversees a room within the house. For now, football (Men) and cycling (Men + Women) are living in the house, but fingers crossed, other team sports will occupy various rooms in the house soon.
SCIOM are keen to emphasise they are approaching this mission with a multi-sport approach. It’s encouraging to find out that no one sport will be prioritised over another meaning all the teams, and the athletes within them, have an equal chance to succeed within the SCIOM structure.
Who is driving Sporting Club Isle of Man?
Along with Sporting Director, Paul, there is Tony Keating (Chair), Raj Nandha (Funding Director), and Ty Smith (Partnerships Director) all acting as some of the key figures behind this project. The team pride themselves on being Manxies through and through, and collectively share the vision of seeing Manx athletes thrive in the sporting world.
I think it’s really promising that we have driven and passionate individuals leading the project, who recognise the importance of sport within our Island’s culture. This ties in well with the overall ethos of SCIOM and what they want to do: bringing our island together to #BeBetter.
How will Sporting Club IOM benefit our Island?
SCIOM will create great opportunities that will allow our local talent to flourish amongst like minded teammates, staff, and members. Manx sixteen-year-old footballers and cyclists may no longer need to consider leaving the island to achieve sporting greatness, allowing talent from all backgrounds with the opportunity to excel in the sporting world.
In turn, this will enable the IOM and the businesses partnering with SCIOM teams to receive more publicity as a by-product of the teams sporting endeavours. A simple equation:
Successful Manx athletes across the globe + more eyes on our little island = more visitors and customers for local businesses, and more people considering residing or setting-up businesses here.
A recent piece about FC Isle of Man (SCIOM owned club) by the BBC has been viewed by thousands of sports fans across the world; a perfect example of how this project can help people notice the Isle of Man.
Another example, which isn’t as far fetched as first seemed is that in time, FC IOM could potentially bring hundreds of football fans to our island. But imagine that for us. Having a local team, that you and your mates could go and watch. I will never forget the first footy match I went to. Imagine your little-one experiencing that on the IOM, but a game they could watch, week-in week-out. I for one have always enjoyed the idea of thousands of Manx people gathering at the Bowl on a Saturday to watch eleven of our own do us proud.
The project could also provide new job opportunities by creating a new job sector. Physios, coaches, accountants, media officers, dietitians, and matchday staff are just some of the roles that could be generated for the Manx public; a huge giveback which we could reap the rewards from for years to come.
SCIOM believe their plans and the opportunities provided will add our strong community spirit of the IOM. With a large part of funding likely to come from annual memberships, it will be a real community led venture where all members will be an integral part of future achievements.
The team at SCIOM have also linked up with some pretty incredible initiatives who represent sustainable and ethically kind mantras. With Hope and Glory – whom offer clothing made from recycled plastic bottles (RPET) – acting as their kit supplier; SCIOM have ensured that a percentage of any Sporting Club’s RPET clothing sales is passed onto Beach Buddies. There is no doubt that SCIOM are committed to the wider community and hope their social responsibility will create a positive ripple effect across our Island.
A key part emphasised by Paul is that, SCIOM’s plan is to develop a good attitude for the talent under the project, and then sporting performance will follow.
As a sportsman, I really admire the way they are looking at all the elements of becoming a top individual in ways more than just the performance. It’s great to know that these leaders are recognising the young Manx talent’s worth, and how they can always be better personally and professionally; all whilst trying to make our Island a better place, for now and for the future.
I personally think the concept of SCIOM is great. Although the project may just be getting started, our Island and its community spirit is the perfect catalyst for teams and individuals to excel.
This is an exciting prospect for our island and I for one think it’s an exciting time for Manx sport. A place where young talent can be nurtured, and educated, all whilst hopefully becoming successful sportsmen and sportswomen. You never know, we may one day see them on a podium somewhere on the other side of the world, singing ‘O Land of our Birth’. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have community owned professional sports teams on our island?
Having professional sports teams based on our Island linking to and working with local sport could well become our sporting reality. There’s a bright future for Manx sport and I for one, can’t wait.