Putting elite sport at the top of Malta’s agenda

Over recent years, the Government through the Parliamentary Secretariat for Sport, and the national entity for Sport, SportMalta, worked on a strategy aimed at putting elite sport on the agenda of our local economy. The success or otherwise of this strategy will be tested in the Games of Small States of Europe to be held in Malta in 2023, and the next Olympic Games to be celebrated in France in 2024. The strategy, which is built on various pillars, had and clear objective, a plan, and a number of targets which if followed will leave the desired dividends.

One of the pillars on which this strategy was based was infrastructure. Sport infrastructure plays a crucial role in the path towards achieving excellence.  Most of our facilities were built towards the Games of Small states in 1993 and therefore needed high maintenance, whereas for some other sport new facilities were needed. These new facilities, apart from fitting their direct purpose that it is attracting high level training and competition, were also built to encourage the younger generation to engage in sport and physical activity. 

Since 2014, a record of €40 million were invested by the Maltese Government to reach this goal. This includes new football stadiums, waterpolo pitches, basketball and handball pavilions, squash, and gymnastic centres amongst others.

Since 2014, a record of €40 million were invested by the Maltese Government.

Another important pillar in the strategy was technical preparation. A discussion was held between SportMalta and the National Development and Social Fund to invest in the athletes, coaches and their Sport Entourage. A €5 million deal was signed with NDSF, which together with a €2.7 million from Government, will give elite athletes a record €7.7 million in preparation for the Commonwealth Games and Mediterranean Games in 2022, Games of Small States 2023, Olympic Games 2024 and other top-level competitions such as European and World Senior and Junior Championships. This amount is almost eight times larger than the amount spent by the government in technical preparation in 2012.

Such a substantial investment required a plan with clear objectives. Investing in high level coaching was the first step. In fact, many associations employed high level local or foreign coaches on full time basis, who together with administrators, established a long-term strategy for the set objectives to be reached. There has also been an increase in the level of engagement with the athletes and other coaches, enhanced personal relations with athletes and improved technical skills for better achievement. All coaches now working on full time basis will report both to the technical committee of the Federation, to the Maltese Olympic Committee and to SportMalta.

A large chunk of the money invested will provide further opportunities for our top athletes to participate in international competitions, stages, and training camps as much as possible. Competing against the same athletes repetitively is not healthy, so measuring ourselves in different stadiums and against a better opposition is a must for us to assess how we are faring in comparison. 

Finally, this money is also invested in a major landmark to Maltese sport, as we will have our first professional athletes. Associations who will be part of the Games of Small States 2023 together with the Maltese Olympic Committee and SportMalta are identifying potential gold medal winners who as from this October, will be given a professional status. This will mean that athletes will focus only on training and competition while their sport entourage will focus on creating the necessary ambience for the athlete to perform. 

This substantial and wide-ranging investment will build a solid sporting environment for the years to come. This investment and commitment by the Government and our sports entities, have paved the way for the dream of an inclusive, successful Malta through Sport.

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