Sports in Greenland

Moments in the history of sports in Greenland


The first descriptions of sports among Inuit

As early as 1586, the explorer John Davis mentioned playing soccer with Inuit in Greenland:

"Divers times they did weave us on shore to play with them at the foot-ball, and some of our company went on shore to play with them, and our men did cast them downe as soone as they did come to strike the ball." 1

The first sports clubs

In 1933, Augo Lynge wrote an article about European sports in the Greenlandic newspaper Atuagagdliutit, encouraging Greenlandic youth to establish sports clubs.

The first sports clubs in Greenland were established in the 1930's and within approx. 10 years, there were 11 teams.

The first sports events

The first sports event, hosted by a sports club, took place on the 19th and 20th of July 1934. The event was hosted by the club Akigssiak and included competitions in the following sports: soccer, running, long jump and the traditional Greenlandic game eqitarneq— "stick pull".2

Grønlands Idræts-Forbund – the Sports Confederation of Greenland

The Sports Confederation of Greenland (GIF) was founded September 3rd, 1953 in Sisimiut.

GIF's first major event was the official West Greenlandic Skiing Championships in Nuuk in March 1954. The approx. 90 contestants, primarily from Sisimiut and Maniitsoq, competed in ski jumping, slalom, cross country and downhill skiing.

Greenland at the Olympics

In 1937, Frederik Nielsen wrote in Atuagadliutit about the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He asked the readers a rhetorical question: : 

Why shouldn't it be possible for someone from Greenland to participate in the Olympics?

Several Greenlanders have participated in the Olympics, although under the Danish flag. Most of them have participated in the Winter Olympics, but Greenland has been represented in the Summer Olympics as well.

The first Greenlander to participate in the Olympics was the gymnast Freddy Jensen. His full name was Josva Frederik Isaias Ananias Jensen and he was born in Nuuk in 1926.

Freddy Jensen participated in the Summer Olympics in 1948 and was part of the very decent 8th place for the Danish team in the All-Round exercise.

Freddy Jensen also participated in the Helsinki Olympics i 1952.3


1) The Voyages and Works of John Davis the Navigator, p. 36
 Tark'igssût 1934 p. 23
3) Sports

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