More Than a Game
The reaches of beautiful game extend well into the North Atlantic and have had a firm grip on the Faroe Islands for almost 125 years.
As one of the country’s most popular pastimes, sixty per cent of those who play a sport, play football. According to FIFA, the international football governing body, there are around 8,000 players across the archipelago. Traveling around the islands it’s hard to miss the bright green rectangles of the artificial pitches that are commonplace in every large village and town.
There are four men’s divisions and two women’s, as well as various junior leagues. The Faroe Islands Premiere League, also know as Effodeildin, features ten teams in total. Last year’s winners and one of the most successful Faroese clubs is B36 (named after 1936, the year of their formation). They train and play alongside their archrival and Torshavn’s other team HB (which stands for Havnar Bóltfelag, or “Harbour Football Club”) at the Gundadalur stadium. Most of the players in Effodeildin are semi-professional, and balance their passion with part-time work or study.
Writer and photographer, Tom Eagar, spent some time with the teams to hear more about their love for the sport and what it’s like to play in the remote Faroe Islands.
Name: Eydun Klakstein
Position: Coach, B36
I’m fairly new [to B36] I’ve only been here 2 seasons. I was in Klaksvík FC before. I also train the national under nineteen’s. That’s because they only have two competitions and I can’t train them while I’m coaching at the club. I think I’m the only one who’s training a league club and an underage [national] team.
There are ten teams in the national league that play each other three times, so 27 games. The season goes from March until October, and then we play a cup. The cup final is here at the stadium. And of course we participate in the Champions League and the Europa League for the international games.
We played the New Saints [Welsh team] last season, they were a bit too strong for us, we had an even game here but lost to them away, so they went through. We can beat them again this season I hope.
We train four times a week, usually for an hour and a half, and we play one game every week. That’s the first six hours preparation, plus they train extra with the weights and then the games. I would say they work something between 15 and 20 hours a week.
Name: Tórður Thomsen
Position: Second Goalkeeper, B36
I don’t play much. Our best player is the first goalkeeper. He’s played for Blackburn [Rovers] and City. He’s actually moved to the biggest team in Iceland now. We’re the same age and we’ve played together all through the under [age] national teams and now for the national team. He’s only been on the bench for one match and that was under-19’s. He’s played every other match and I’ve been on the bench!
I go to school. I’m doing a bachelor degree in teaching. It’s a good job, it’s a good life – lots of holidays.
HB [the rival club] are probably the biggest club. It’s funny that we train so closely. We’ve been champions for two years now so I’m sure that doesn’t fall too well with them. We train Tuesday and Thursday and they train Monday and Friday. Every year we swap.
Name: Sebastian Pingel
Position: Striker, B36
I like to live here. Good people. I’m a handyman, but I work part-time. Half football, half work.
Pætur J. Peterson
Name: Pætur J. Peterson
Position: Wing, B36
I’m studying. This is my last year of studying. Next year I hope to work and still play football.
Tom Eagar is a British writer, photographer, and filmmaker currently in New Zealand.