Malta has a vibrant athletic community which has the luxury of being able to choose from a myriad of sporting competitions throughout the year.
These events are significant to the country as they promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
Whilst recently, sport has been playing an increasingly essential role within the Maltese community, the take-up of sport – be it for leisure or competitive activity – still remains an area that requires more attention.
Particularly in light of a recent Eurobarometer survey showing that Malta’s sedentary lifestyle remains a matter of concern.
Encouragingly though local authorities have been giving the subject more attention, whereby promotional activity focusing on sport as a means of creating a healthy and active lifestyle has been ongoing.
The investment in various sporting facilities around the island has complemented these efforts.
Moulding the sports scene into one that encourages increased participation is the driving force of two of Malta’s most successful multi-sport clubs, Birkirkara St Joseph SC and newcomer to the Maltese scene CORSA Race Events
Whilst experience in race organisation varies, both entities are driven by their passion for sport and were set up with the objective to increase sport participation at all levels.
Founded in August, 1975, Birkirkara St Joseph has firmly established itself in some of Malta’s most popular sports – athletics, open water swimming and triathlon – being instrumental in the development of the latter two sports on the island.
Its commitment to developing young talent and promoting a community sporting spirit has helped to create a vibrant sports culture in Malta.
Evidence of this is its annual sporting calendar which offers a wide variety of events to cater for all interests and skill levels.
CORSA was born from a single motivation to build an inclusive and unified community revolving around sports events that can challenge everyone – from a complete beginner to an elite athlete.
At the core of both entities are a solid set of processes that enable them to host events that run like clockwork, giving every athlete the peace of mind they need to perform at their best.
Birkirkara St Joseph Sports Club has been instrumental in the hosting of triathlon events, paving the way for other organisers to follow suit.
Having hosted Sprint and Olympic distance events since triathlon was introduced in the late 1980s, the club continues to welcome triathletes to the Salina Coastroad, the unofficial home of triathlon in Malta.
The club pioneered open water swimming, starting from its championships throughout the summer and culminating in September in the Malta-Gozo-Malta and Gozo-Malta Channel swims.
Throughout the summer months, when the road running scene takes a slight pause, the club hosts its Road Running Series, a three-race event hosted on the Mtarfa By Pass.
In recent years it took over the Malta International Challenge Marathon – a unique event that sees a full marathon being run in stages over a period of three days.
The passion for long-distance running lead to the inception of the La Valette Marathon.
Stemming from historical events as far back as 1565, the marathon is a tribute to Malta’s colourful history whilst making the most of its natural landscape.
In line with its strategy to cater for all levels of athletic ability La Valette Marathon event also hosts a half marathon and walkathon.
Despite, the choice of events, participation in events still remains a challenge.
The local sporting calendar has grown substantially with many races vying for participants’ attention. More so is the lure of racing abroad, which has seemingly distracted locals’ attention towards racing on home soil.
“Birkirkara St Joseph has a wealth of experience when hosting events. The logistical and technical ability of the club is undeniable,” said Ray Grech, president of Birkirkara St Joseph SC.
“Now it is time to increase our efforts to encourage participation in local events. We know for a fact that there is a lot of interest by the thriving sport community in Malta to compete abroad, which is great, however, let us not lose sight of the fact that Malta offers some very interesting and challenging race routes – all found on our doorstep.”
It is with this in mind that Birkirkara St Joseph and CORSA Race Events have teamed up to bring their know-how together to nurture positive race experiences by means of an inclusive, welcoming and vibrant atmosphere; thus fostering an environment that is open to people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.
The power of social interaction, fuelled by the post-race adrenaline rush, is not to be underestimated when attempting to cultivate a strong sense of community amongst participants.
“Maltese athletes are spoilt for choice when choosing a race,” said Matthew Pace, CORSA Race Events founder.
“Although we are a small island, Malta’s natural landscape lends itself well to having challenging, scenic yet accessible race routes for all capabilities. The island’s climate is also ideal, enabling us to offer year-round sporting activity.
“Malta has left an indelible mark amongst international athletes – we have seen an increase in foreign athletes coming to Malta to race.”
Whilst focusing their initial efforts to growing local participation, both entities are eyeing sports tourism,which they feel is a niche that is still relatively untapped.
Besides from the economic activity sports tourism brings with it, the mix of local and foreign participation brings unique benefits to sporting competitions, and a balance between the two is important for the growth and success of the sport.
International brings about diversity – in skills and styles, thus enriching the sport.
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