Historically there has always been much interest in sport in the Faroe Islands. In the old sagas and legends there are tales of heroes and strong men, who performed the most unbelievable feats when in a fix, in their work, or in daily life. It depended upon being quick, agile and strong, and in many cases the stories of the bravest and the best have been told down through the generations, so they have gained the most unforgettable status.
Rivalries between villages have become tradition over the centuries, but now sports have taken the place of the “battle field”. Where in the past other things were the reason for and gave rise to the rivalries, today it is the local football or handball team which ensures the intensity and engagement, and it fully measures up to the levels that can be experienced in other countries.
In spite of its meager population the Faroes have such an extreme degree of sport activities that most people have at some stage been active sport participants. Sport is not something one is contented with as a passive onlooker, for Faroe may be the country in the world with the widest sport participation. Every third Faroese takes active part in some sport, and the Faroe Sports Association, “Itróttasamband Føroya” (ISF) has more than 15.000 active members out of a total population of 48.000. The 15.000 are organized in 110 sports clubs.
The Faroe national sport is rowing, which is done in the traditional Faroe boats built on the same principles as the old Viking ships. The sports facilities have a high standard, so most of the bigger villages and towns have football fields with artificial grass. In addition there are stadiums with real grass pitches, two of which are used for international matches in which the Faroe national team and its top club teams compete in European tournaments.
Much volleyball and handball is played in Faroe, and as their season is the winter, there are many sports halls all over the country. These halls are also used for other kinds of sports. In addition all major schools have gyms which accommodate much training as well as some tournaments. There are a few swimming halls and one complete athletics stadium. All these facilities are in regular use and of much benefit to the local community as well as the whole country.
Besides the fact that sports enjoy much participation and interest in Faroe, there are also many Faroese sports people in our neighbouring countries, some even as professionals. The Faroes have in most sports branches obtained international recognition and memberships, but have not yet achieved Olympic recognition despite a determined effort for many years. At regular intervals the Faroe national teams in various sports represent the country at international events, in some cases with impressive results, which again creates renewed interest and new recruitment of participants.
The Star Swimmer Heidi Andreasen
Heidi Andreasen (born 18th Dec. 1985) at age 14 won four medals at the Para-Olympic Games in Sydney: Silver in 50, 100 and 400 metre free style, and bronze in 100 metre back- stroke. At the European Championships in Stockholm in 2001 Heidi made an impression by winning four gold medals and by setting two records: the European Record in 400 metre freestyle with the time 5.16.32 and the World Record in 200 metre medley with the time 3.02.11. The following year Heidi was nominated for the Laureus Sports Award as one of the world’s five foremost handicap sports people. At the British Open 2006 Heidi won six gold and two silver medals. Heidi swims in the category S8, a category of people with lesser handicaps.