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Sport on St Helena

…and other physical activities

Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.{h}

Despite the island’s tiny population, a wide variety of sports is played on St Helena

Sport is a dynamic subject, changing on a daily basis, so this page can only be a general introduction to sport on St Helena. For the latest sports news see our local media:

Main Sports

Below: FootballCricketGolfMoto-CrossGo-Karting


The teams will be disinfecting their balls at half-time…{i}

St Helena Football Association

Football is played in a competitive league, organised by the St Helena Football Association and featuring teams with names like ‘Bellboys’, ‘Wirebirds’, ‘Chop Shop Boys{3}’ and ‘Crystal Rangers’. Official games are played on Francis Plain, adjacent to Prince Andrew School, the only area of flat land on the island big enough to contain multiple football pitches{4}, though there is also a single football pitch in Levelwood.

Rovers and Harts taste defeat as Chop Shop and Bellboys enjoy successful return to League{j}

Most Saints also support a UK team. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are common choices. UK and other international football games are shown in bars, especially at the time of the World Cup.

Junior Football

There is also a competitive league and a Knock Out Cup, with teams such as the ‘Longwood Dynamites’, ‘Longwood Rebels’, ‘Vipers’, ‘Rejects’ and, while the Basil Read airport construction team was here, the ‘Rocketeers{5}

School Football

The primary schools also hold an annual Inter-School Tournament. Winners in 2014 were Pilling School, the results being: Pilling 5 v St Pauls 0; Harford 7 v St Pauls 1; and Pilling 5 v Harford 3.

International Football

In June 2019 St Helena sent its first International Football Team to the 2019 Inter Games Football Tournament in Ynys Môn. Their first match, a ‘friendly’, was played on 10th June - they won 2-0. Sadly they lost all of their tournament games and were eliminated from the competition.


Cricket, like rifle-shooting and dancing and love-making, is a St Helenian’s favourite occupation.{k}

St Helena Cricket Association

Teams such as the ‘Jamestown Zodiacs’, ‘St. Matthew’s Lions’, ‘Western B Warriors’ and ‘HTH Dolphins’ battle each week in the summer to win the league, knock-out or district competitions, organised by the St Helena Cricket Association (www.sthelenacricket.org). Matches are played on Francis Plain.

In April 2012 St Helena competed in its first international tournament, the ICC Africa Division 3 T20 Tournament. It was held in South Africa where Saint Helena beat Mali, Gambia, Cameroon and Morocco. They finished in fifth place out of eight teams.

On December 8th 2019 Andrew Yon scored the highest ever number of runs in a cricket match - 230 for Royal Challengers against Western A Mustangs.

There are some images (below) of cricket in action on St Helena{f}:


Quoting from the International Cricket Council’s St Helena page:

It is not clear when cricket was introduced to St Helena Island, but there are references to it being played on the island in the early part of 1844. The earliest Records so far discovered, however, are the minutes of the first meeting of the St Helena Cricket League, which date from 1903. It would seem from these minutes that the St Helena Cricket League was the governing body regulating the game on the island. There were local teams centred in the major areas of population, such as the capital, Jamestown and various regiments of the British Army garrisoned on St Helena from time to time.

In 1934, the St Helena Cricket Club was formed to be the umbrella organisation controlling both the league and the district competitions. The island’s governor at the time appears to have been instrumental in this and both he and his successor involved themselves in the management activities of the club over the years leading up to World War 2. The senior clergy and members of the prominent families on the island also took a close interest in the administration of cricket throughout those four decades of the 20th century. The common theme from those early Records of 1903 to the end of the 1930s was the financial difficulty the administrators had in the provision and replacement of the matting wickets.

Both World War 1 and World War 2 brought increases in the military establishment on the island and this corresponded to increases in the number of cricket teams. There were 15 teams participating at one point in the 1940s. In 1958, the St Helena Cricket Club was replaced by the St Helena Cricket Association (SHCA), which still operates today.

Cricket on Francis Plain, 1886
Cricket on Francis Plain, 1886{l}

According to local legend, in 1886 a fielder fell over the cliff while attempting to take a catch. The legend says the unfortunate player was Jack, one of the enslaved, and this is how the story is reported in the 2012 edition of the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanac. However, in the version of the story printed in London newspaper The Graphic, 20th February 1886, the victim is described as a ‘Jack Tar’, i.e. a sailor, which seems more likely. Slavery had ended fifty years earlier and in the 1880s the formerly enslaved were somewhat preoccupied with survival and unlikely to be playing cricket. The story has been disputed because, today, Francis Plain does not end in a cliff, but it must be remembered that the Plain was remodelled by the Royal Engineers in 1975/8 and the edge may well have been softened then. We did get one social media comment on this story:

Yes I have heard the story about the cricketer and the story goes on to say every year there is blood on the ledge where he went over!!

Of course, before Francis Plain was levelled in 1979 cricket happened wherever an area of relatively-level ground could be found. David Hall, a VSO scheme teacher at the Secondary Selective School in the early 1960s reports{m}:

We also had cricket on an old concrete strip further up Half Tree Hollow, half buried in prickly pear, which made fielding a somewhat hazardous occupation.


Golf is played at the Longwood Golf Course, which is short in comparison to most.{n}

St Helena Golf Club

St Helena has a 9-hole golf course (you go round twice) - there are only 9 greens but there are 18 Tees, so it’s not quite the same the second time around. The course is currently Par 68. Set up at Longwood, there is also a club house for that all important 19th hole banter and refreshments. Anyone can play - just contact the club to make arrangements. You can even borrow some clubs and there is a warm welcome for visiting golfers.

An Open Championship is fiercely contested every year. Tombstone competitions are also popular (this is where all players start out with a fixed number of strokes and play continues until all the strokes have been used, the winner being the player that got furthest round the course).

More at www.facebook.com/‌shgc.org.sh.

The St Helena Golf Club held its first meeting in April 1899. The current club was founded as the ‘Longwood Sports Club’ and opened on 11th June 1903 by Governor Gallwey.

A developer has plans to build an eco resort at Broad Bottom in Blue Hill and if these plans come to fruition they will include an eighteen-hole Golf Course. Whether this will supplement the current course or replace it is not clear.


{o}Moto-Cross in action
Moto-Cross in action
Moto-Cross in action

Moto-Cross club logo

The St Helena Moto-Cross club organises a National Championship, where participants compete in four different classes: 125 Class; 250 Class; Open Class and Youth Class, and also the annual ‘Robert Glanville Piston Cup’ (after the late Robert Glanville, a fallen local biker enthusiast). The club has been in action since 1986 and operates from the Moto-Cross track in Bradley’s (Longwood). You can see them in action on YouTube™:


St Helena’s first Go-Karting circuit opened on 4th December 2020, located in the forest just above Sapper Way/Model Cottage (St Pauls). The track is open at weekends and can also be hired for private events (parties; corporate team-building exercises; etc.) Photographs below{p}:

Other Sports

Below: Mountain BikingPaintballRock ClimbingYogaMore…

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking trail

St Helena’s Mountain Bike Trail opened in September 2014, on a track at Weather Station Ridge. The trail is over 3,000 metres long with just one section about 500 metres long which has to be used on both the outward and return run. Most of the trail is one big loop with a second smaller loop near the start of the trail; the smaller loop could be used for children and newcomers to practice their mountain biking skills.

The full route starts by twisting around the beautiful ‘Paint Box’, then drops sharply downhill (through some rather thorny Tungi bushes!) to the gut below Cox’s Battery before rising in a steady but tiring uphill back to the start.


Paintball splat

If you take a stroll in the woods at the weekend there’s a small chance you may find yourself surrounded by a group dressed in combat gear, frantically shooting at each other. Fear not - it’s not the breakdown of civilization; you have wandered into a paintball game.

Don’t be afraid of their weapons either. They only fire paintballs - pellets of water-soluble dye whose aim is to mark the opponent to prove they have been hit, while doing no actual damage. The ‘paint’ is fully biodegradable, so there is no environmental impact either.

It is not clear how paintball got started. Some say it was developed by herders to mark cattle. Others say it was invented by the military for training purposes. Either way it is now a popular sport worldwide and on St Helena.

Paintballers don’t re-enact historic battles. They organise into teams and set about winning some objective agreed between themselves; perhaps to capture the opponent’s flag and return it to base. Games can last two or more hours. The only necessary safety gear is a facemask, though some choose to wear full body armour. There is currently no official paintball area on St Helena, so their ‘battles’ take place anywhere where the landowner will give permission. More on the South Atlantic Paintball Facebook™ page.

Rock Climbing

Surrounded by sea cliffs you might think rock climbing would be a major sport on St Helena. Sadly, however, most of our cliffs are not stable enough for climbing. In 2018 Saint Helena Island Info was contacted by some climbers who, after examining our page Geology of St Helena, believed some of the rocks might be climbable, particularly those in Sandy Bay. Phonolite was mentioned (see ‘St Helena: A Physical, Historical and Topographical Description of the Island{7}’).


Although Yoga isn’t exactly a sport, it is a physical activity and so qualifies for this page.

Yoga session
Yoga session

Connecting mind, body and spirit on a beautiful island

Since March 2021 St Helena has seven qualified local yoga instructors. They were taught and certified to Zenways standards by Mark Westmoquette, himsef a Zenways-certified yoga instructor. They offer sessions in various locations - mostly local community centres - at various times. Check out the Yoga St Helena Facebook™ page for details.


Woman’s Sport Association

Other sports played on the island include Basketball/Netball, Volleyball, Rounders and Table Tennis. There are also Skittles teams in every community centre with an active nine-a-side league. Competitive swimming is popular.

Rifle shooting

There is a Rifle Club in Jamestown and Saints often compete internationally in small-bore shooting.

About 50 years ago almost everybody flew home-made kites, the almost continuous trade winds providing an ideal environment. Kids in lower Jamestown apparently flew their kites from the ‘bird rock’ - an outcrop above the Scout Hall. Not so much today, due to the availability of Television and computergames.

And on the subject of sport… don’t forget the Reading Sports in the UK every August Bank Holiday.

Did we miss your sport? contact us with all the details we need (and a few photos) and we’ll happily include it.

Sports Associations

The following sporting associations may be of interest:

The Jamestown Rifle Club

Rifle Club badge

The Jamestown Rifle Club manages the rifle range in the Moat in Jamestown (just in front of the Swimming Pool).

National Sports Association of St Helena

The National Sports Association of St Helena (NSASH) organises sport on St Helena, particularly the island’s participation in overseas events.

Non-sport Community Groups are listed on our page Community Pages.

International Events

NASAS 2014

First Commonwealth Games, 1982

St Helena regularly competes in international sporting events; for example the Commonwealth Games{8} and Youth Games, and in the Island Games, our team being organised by the National Amateur Sports Association of St Helena (which is also St Helena’s Commonwealth Games Association). Teams are always entered in Shooting and usually swimming. In the past St Helena has also participated in badminton or running.

In 2013 at the Island Games St Helena won a Gold Medal in shooting (Simon Henry won Gold and Silver medals and Carlos Yon won Silver).

The following Press Release was issued by the St Helena Government on 6th July 2015:

The 2015 Island Games team returns
The 2015 Island Games team returns

St Helena’s participation in the 2015 Island Games

The St Helena 2015 Island Games Team will bring home with them a silver and bronze medal from this year’s NatWest Island Games XVI, held in Jersey from 27th June to 3rd July 2015. Twenty four Island teams took part in this year’s Games.

The team, led by Chef de Mission Gavin George and managers Pat Henry and Barbara Osborne, has departed Jersey with shooters Madolyn Andrews, Jodie Scipio-Constantine, Kayleigh Harris, Chelsea Benjamin, Simon Henry and Jordie Andrews, swimmer Ben Dillon, golfers Martin (Jackson) Buckley, Patrick Sim and Malcolm Williams and athlete Alexia Reynolds.

Madolyn Andrews and Chelsea Benjamin won bronze medals in the ISSF 50m Prone Smallbore Rifle Women’s Team event and Madolyn and Kayleigh Harris were awarded a silver medal in the 50m 3 Position Smallbore Rifle Women’s Team event.

Overall, St Helena came in 22nd position at the Games. Chairman of the National Amateur Sports Association St Helena (NASAS), Nick Stevens, said: As Chairman of NASAS I am extremely pleased and proud of Team St Helena’s achievement at the Island Games in Jersey. For an Island of just over 4,500 people to be able to compete in the international arena is fantastic and to win medals is truly remarkable. To all the team members I would just like to say a big well done!

St Helena Government also extends its congratulations to the team.

See also International Football (above).

Sport ‘in the before days’

Here are some images of sport on St Helena at the beginning of the 20th Century - 1903-5. Note that only the ‘landed gentry’ and those employed in the colonial government appear in these photos. That is not to suggest that the ordinary people of St Helena didn’t play sports; they probably just didn’t do so on proper courts and pitches, and nobody would have considered recording it on photographic plates.

Read More

Article: The exciting future of football on the island of Saint Helena

By Tomos Knox, outsideoftheboot.com, 13th April, 2015

The Premier League is rolling towards its conclusion, and the fate of all clubs will be decided by the remaining fixtures yet to be contested. However, as the 2014-15 campaign approaches the finale, another league is about to commence. Tomos Knox interviewed Damien O’Bey, to give us more insight.

The league in question is perhaps not as well-known nor as rich, but its title still evokes relative pedigree. The Barclays Premier League may be the most-viewed league on earth, but the Saint Helena Football League - located on the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena Island - is equally remarkable, in that it is the most remote league on earth.

Lying 1,900Km away from the African continent, Saint Helena is a small island situated in the South Atlantic Ocean with a population of just under 4,000. Perhaps best known for being Napoleon Bonaparte’s place of exile - the Frenchman died on the island in 1921 - Saint Helena’s remoteness means that it is both arduous and expensive to travel. An airport is currently being built and is scheduled for completion in 2016. It is hoped amongst locals that the airport will bring along with it a better future for Saint Helena, as the island’s population is decreasing rapidly due to the young men and women being unable to find work on-island.

Football on the island is fairly basic. A senior league runs from May until November and there are also junior competitions, but cricket is the dominant sport on Saint Helena. Despite this, former Saint Helena Football Association secretary Damien O’Bey insists that the island’s inhabitants retain a love for The Beautiful Game. Now The Sentinel’s chief football writer, he is optimistic about football’s future on the island, although he acknowledges that there are problems that need addressing.

Football is certainly a sport that Saints (St Helenians) enjoy, in terms of popularity it’s probably the most popular sport on St Helena based on numbers who participate and watch, he says. There are other sports which have higher participation numbers, but have fewer spectators.

Despite the popularity of the English Premier League, islanders retain their enthusiasm for the Saint Helena Football League. It may only be an amateur league, but it is fiercely contested and supporters are always to be found on the island’s only football pitch: Francis Plain.

Cricket being played on Francis Plain, a ground where various outdoor sports take place in Saint Helena
Cricket being played on Francis Plain, a ground where various outdoor sports take place in Saint Helena{9}

Due to Saint Helena’s small population the anticipation and high levels of enthusiasm is felt throughout the Island. O’Bey explains. The league is normally a highly competitive event, with between 3 to 4 teams vying for the title each season.

However, the Saint Helena Football Association receives no funding whatsoever from the English FA, despite being a British island. This means that money can often be in short supply. Also, problems with bad weather meant that the league lost almost 8 weeks last year, which proved incredibly problematic for the SHFA.

Having just the one pitch to play all of the island’s outdoor sports can throw up problems with maintenance and the time available for each association to complete their respective sports, O’Bey comments. It is an opinion shared by many. But, due to St Helena’s mountainous and rugged terrain, it would be extremely difficult to build another pitch.

It also seems that St Helena’s footballing community have aspirations on a more international scale. As recently as 2011 it was proposed that the island should send a team to the Island Games, an Olympic-themed tournament for islands all over the world. Amongst its more notable members are Bermuda, Greenland, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, and Saint Helena’s south westerly ‘neighbours’, Falkland Islands. St Helena are members, but have never sent along a football team. Sadly, due to the sheer costliness of such a project, the proposal amounted to nothing - with financial difficulties playing an integral role in the downfall of the dream. All the same, islanders remain hopeful that with the airport, and cheaper travel, the Saint Helena national football team will compete in the Island Games.

With the airport on its way, an opportunity should open up for St Helena to have a football team represent them at an international event. Damien O’Bey says, optimistically. However, O’Bey believes work would need to be done in order to have a team of a good standard. Competing in the Island Games would mean contesting versus professional footballers.

Great amounts of training will be required for a team to reach the standard capable enough to participate in such a competition. He concedes. Despite this, Saint Helena have a good grassroots system in place, and it is no surprise that football on the island is played to a high standard, undeterred by the meagre population.

There is quite a good youth setup in place for football. States O’Bey. After-school clubs are hosted on a weekly basis in various districts on the island during the football season, and leagues for various age groups are contested alongside the senior league.

According to Damien O’Bey, the next step is to form a national team that could compete at the Island Games or another similar tournament. And, as the airport nears its opening, this may be sooner rather than later. The Saint Helena FA have also contacted FIFA recently, and with Gibraltar, another British Overseas Territory, part of UEFA, there is no reason as to why they would be unable to join the global governing body. However, it remains unlikely that they will join.

For Saint Helena and its community, a national football team would be something that would be able to take pride in. As of yet, the island’s national cricket have been making strides since joining the ICC, so the same could go for the football side, albeit on a smaller scale. These are exciting times for Saint Helenian sport. The future is bright.


{a} @www.twitter.com/‌keith16024542{b} Social Media User{10}{c} Copyright © South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. (SAMS), used with permission.{d} Green Renaissance{e} Eric Constantine{f} Copyright © South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. (SAMS), used with permission.{g} Social Media User{11}{h} Nelson Mandela{i} Jenny Hill, BBC TV News sports commentator, talking about the resumption of football in Germany post-Covid‑19, 16th May 2020{j} The Sentinel, 3rd August 2023{k} Oswell Blakeston, in his 1957 book ‘Isle of St Helena’{l} London newspaper The Graphic, 20th February 1886{m} In ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{12} #49, 2020{n} ‘Wirebird’, the magazine of Friends of St Helena{12} #21, May 2000{o} MJ Ltd{p} Harry Turner{q} St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society (‘SHATPS’)


{1} Actually, at the time this was the new building. It was replaced by the current building, probably in the 1960s.{2} Where the Swimming Pool is now.{3} Either car mechanics or cooks, one would presume!{4} It was created by the Royal Engineers in 1979 as part of ‘Project Bonaparte’.{5} Were they only building an airport, or were there bigger plans?{6} Please first read this warning.{7} …including the Geology, Fauna, Flora and Meteorology, by John Melliss, published in 1875.{8} St Helena participated in 1982, then not again until 1998. It has participated in every Games since 1998.{9} Interestingly, the publishers of this article took this image from us (with attribution, as requested on our page Link To Us).{10} Posted on Social Media and used with the poster’s permission but they wish to remain anonymous.{11} Posted on Social Media and used with the poster’s permission but they wish to remain anonymous.{12} The four ‘Wirebird’ publications should not be confused.