*Photos By Nicola Muirhead.
*Photos By Nicola Muirhead.

It would have taken a particularly cold-hearted curmudgeon not to feel uplifted by the Island Game opening ceremony at the National Sports Centre on Saturday night.

The island welcomed over 1,200 athletes from 21 countries with the Games’ traditional parade infused with the hosts’ own inimitable flavour.

Aland, an archipelago of Finland made up of 6,757 islands, were the first team cheered on to the track, making their way past fans, fellow competitors, dignitaries and an impressive media pack — proof, if any were needed, of the value placed on these Games by the communities involved.

It was all too much for Premier Cannonier who, warming to his Island Games sermon, watched as his speech notes were blown away.

Buoyed by his obvious ability to remember – or improvise on – his planned words, and so enthused by the prospect of the sporting battles that lie ahead, the Premier simply chose to fling his returned notes back into the air in mock disregard.

It was a crowdpleaser – and it was hard not to share his excitement. Sunday, for example, immediately features key medal races in cycling’s road race, triathlon and gymnastics to name but three.

Premier Cannonier told the crowd: “This is an electrifying time, isn't it? Brilliant. I want to acknowledge those of you who have crossed waters because the greatest gift you could receive may not be a medal but it is to comer here and be united with one another.

"The world has become a very small place and one of the most important things about that is the brotherhood of our neighbouring countries, our neighbouring islands. So we salute you for coming here to the 'Bermudaful' shores of Bermuda, where the sand is pink and the people are beautiful!"

The islands taking part in the Olympics-style introduction certainly epitomized the Bermuda leader’s thoughts – Faroe have brought an army (they look like they mean business), Menorca were clearly up for a party and Saaremaa are a team very much in sync, particularly if their hands-in-the-air style routines are anything to go by.

The biggest cheer, though, of course, was reserved for the hosts, who were led by tennis player Jensen Bascome, the flag-bearer, and gymnast Samantha Soares, the water carrier, who took part in a symbolic part of the ceremony that involved a member of each island pouring water brought over from their shores into a special feature positioned in a fitted dinghy.

The spirit of the Games is strong and, after the drummers, dancers and Gombeys finale, it was entirely fitting, therefore, that Bob Marley’s One Love played out as the crowd dispersed.

The Games are officially open. Now let’s really have some fun.