Far and distant lands

by Ben Edwards

faroe islands

The great thing about football fans from the UK is that they can tell you everything there is to know about the Premier League all the way to what Rory Delap has been up to this week. However when you take them out of their comfort zone, it’s a whole other kettle of fish.

There are so many great leagues in the world that simply do not get any coverage at all. I know as well as the next fan that you can’t specialise in them all; that would be a full time job just to have a decent knowledge of even a couple of other countries. I have always had a great interest in travelling and football, so what better way to combine the two then to gain knowledge of a league that is little known but an area I also know. So that’s exactly what I did!

Of all the places across Europe that I have been it is the smallest place that captured my heart. Along with my love of football I took it upon myself to submerge myself with that countries football and leagues. Ok, well to be frank the islands are still governed in some capacity by Denmark but that has not stopped them having an unnoticed footballing league. The place I am talking about of course is the Faroe Islands. Don’t know where they are you say? Whenever people ask I simply reply by saying they are 177 miles away from Scotland and leave it at that.

The ‘Faroe Islands Premier League’ ranked 51st on the UEFAs coefficient ratings, was founded in 1942 but did not grace the European contests until 1992. This makes the League relatively new on the European scale. The division boasts ten teams that stretch across five islands. By now you may be thinking what a strange league to have an interest in and you are probably right. I think what makes them so unique is that for a country with a population of a mere 49,000 people its top league has ten teams over a vast area. For instance when KÍ Klaksvík play TB Tvøroyri there are three islands that they must navigate for the teams to find each other. To me this shows the importance that the Faroese people place on football as they are willing to go to such lengths. Of course in comparison to vast countries such as the US this would be nothing. But for such a small and beautiful part of the world this is something much more.

If you had to describe football in the Faroe Islands you would probably have to compare it to that of a Conference team but with glimmers of great football imbedded into it all. Success in the European completions is minimal to say the least but is not a complete failure. With teams such as Havnar Bóltfelag Tórshavn (HB) taking scalps in the big completions, all is it in the preliminary rounds. When this is put into context of the nation these results start to look all so more impressive.  The league has also been the birth place of some great Danish players who have gone onto play at very high levels, showing that the league has the talent within in it.

Over the coming weeks I will look at the national side, the teams within the tiny league and notable players to bring this fascinating league to the attention of others. This will include debate about the future of the league and the future of the national team and whether or not that can make a small mark on European football.

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