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Watch: Celebrating sport in Malta

Barbara Brennan, an Irish mental well-being advocate, shared her personal experience with teachers, coaches, students, and parents.  

Would you like to attend a Conference where you might have thought that you would spend a long time sitting down but you end up dancing?

Well, if you attended the Conference ‘Celebrating Sport in Malta 2024’, you would know that this is precisely what happened. The delegates attending the three different sessions of this event felt so triggered by what they were exposed to, that they felt compelled to join in whatever this very positive Conference offered.  

On Friday morning, Clifton Grima, Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation, opened the event in the presence of physical education teachers, sports coaches, and students.

He was followed by Mark Cutajar, SportMalta’s Chief Executive Officer who explained briefly who this Conference was meant to target. He indicated the very innovative themes and revealed the line-up of speakers of this special event. He promised the audience that this Conference was going to be an innovative one and that stakeholders would surely find it interesting.

Matthew Pisani, Deputy Chairperson at SportMalta addressed the delegates, saying that he was looking forward to participating in this two-day Conference packed with educational material.

A panel discussion about the National Education Strategy 2024 – 2030 was held, with Ritianne Borg Saliba, Director General at the Ministry of Education, Dr Luciano Busuttil, Chief Executive Officer at AIMS and Renzo Kerr-Cumbo, Senior Lecturer at MCAST.

Borg Saliba explained the process of drafting this document while Busuttil expressed his views as a parent of a young athlete vis-à-vis schooling and is looking forward to this strategy being implemented.

Kerr-Cumbo showed his concerns about the way the education system looks at sports and physical activity.  

The second session of the day was offered to parents of young athletes.

The eagerness of these parents to learn could be felt in the air. They engaged in the discussion which revolved around the support offered to athletes.

The panel of this discussion, saw Professor Andrew Azzopardi as a parent of a successful young athlete, Gianluca Azzopardi Spiteri as an athlete, and Daniel Tabone, president of the Malta Handball Association, as a sports administrator.

Here again, the discussion revolved around the young athlete and one’s academic and professional life. It was evident that the support given to athletes needs to be made more evident for athletes to benefit from.

Professor Azzopardi praised the positive mental setup local athletes at the Games of Small States were geared upon, which left historical dividends.

Tabone encouraged parents to support their kids and not to put unnecessary pressure/.

Pierre Cassar, the moderator of this Conference, accompanied us through to the second day of this event, which welcomed sports organisations.

The panel discussion was about the European Week of Sport, which is an initiative of the European Union for which SportMalta is the National Coordinating Body.

This initiative is a great platform for sports organisations to recruit new athletes in collaboration with SportMalta. This panel welcomed Rose Marie Mercieca, the national coordinator on behalf of SportMalta, Mark Marlow, the President of the Malta Employees Sports Association, Christabel D’Amato from Special Olympics and Marko Glumac from Know How Soccer, with these three organizations sharing their experience as the most active within this initiative.

Rose Marie Mercieca encouraged the delegates to get in touch with SportMalta for them to benefit from this initiative.

As Christabel D’Amato shared during her intervention, the week could be an occasion for parents to gain knowledge about existing opportunities.

Mark Marlow appealed to employers to grant further permissions to their employees to engage in sport as in the end, this would pay back. Marko Glumac insisted that such events are very important for the sport to grow.  

The Conference, which is marking the ten years of SportMalta welcomed several international speakers.

Barbara Brennan, an Irish mental well-being advocate, shared her personal experience with teachers, coaches, students, and parents.  

Distinctive international sporting bodies were also invited to share their good practices, namely UEFA and World Rugby.

Olivier Gudet from UEFA and Jason Lewis from World Rugby, shared their experience and knowledge about event organization with innovative ideas, including the sustainability of events, each one of them doing this from the two different perspectives of the organizations they represent.

Greg Woods from World Rugby also shared the good practice of T1 Rugby, a programme with the aim of growing the game. This gave an outline of what is being done at a higher level which could be easily be adapted to the local level.  

James Thoem, a Gehl associate, presented inventive ways of how to transform urban spaces into places for physical activity and recreation. Teachers and coaches realized that such ideas could be easily adapted to schools and club venues while sports organizations agreed that a transformation within their premises could attract more people to their clubs.  

The conference included online questionnaires for the audience to engage in and to interact between each other and with the speakers. It certainly saw a whole lot of innovative topics and ideas with which the listeners felt stimulated and engaged, up to the point that they felt like dancing with SportMalta’s own coach, Johanna Refalo.  

The Conference ended with the distribution of €1.6million to be utilized by 120 sport organizations for international participation and sport tourism.

It certainly was a very positive Conference to be remembered, marking the ten years of SportMalta with a difference. 

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