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Tony Formosa • November 21 2004

A congress of sport is an urgent need

There is an urgent need of a get-together of all partners involved in the administration of Maltese sport. It should serve as an opportunity to discuss a number of important topics, review the current situation and offer solutions for accepted common problems. The conclusions will serve as a sound basis for the implementation of a serious action plan, which should cover short and long term policies. Though a number of seminars are regularly organised by different groups, it would be a historical and fruitful occasion, the first of its kind with all players involved in a soul searching exercise expected to give their valid contributions. Foreign experts may also be invited to present their papers.
The occasion will be beneficial to sport in general and all the represented bodies in particular.

Make-believe world
An honest appraisal of the current situation shows we live in a make believe world with superlatives galore continually being repeated by so many administrators when the reality is totally different. It seems this glorified, but unreal picture, is imperative for the administrators for different reasons which could range from their love for the particular sport, to personal glories and the ensuing perks enjoyed from occupying such positions. Maybe this indictment will hardly please a few of our big-headed amateurs who give the impression that the sporting world revolves around them.
Our sport is mirrored through press conferences and releases but an in-depth study of the true situation, definitely gives a vastly different picture. Limited feats are unrealistically magnified. Of course, we all appreciate the effort and the oft-used clichés referring to ‘personal sacrifice.’ Most of our successful performers are honoured and pampered even if their feats prove our limitations. The many presentation and ‘oscar’ nights, are meaningless when turned into ‘cheaper by the dozen’ occasions.

Sport offers a matrix situation

Partners in sport
Among those involved in Maltese sport we cannot ignore the Sports Council, the Olympic Committee, all national federations including those involved in non-Olympic sport, with their administrators, officials and participants; the voluntary sector, the ministry responsible for sport and the section of the education department which caters for sport in state schools, obviously those who govern sport in Church and private schools, those in charge of sport in sixth forms and university, besides others who do their bit in the shadows.
The picture is a lot wider because the media, lecturers, those involved in the running of courses for would-be officials, those with bags of experience who could teach a thing or two, should also be involved.
The suggested Congress should be organised by the Kunsill Malti Ghall-Isport. Having worked for years towards the creation of such an entity which would oversee and be recognised as the supreme power of sport in Malta, the Sports Council should organise the Congress and prove its salt. The students currently following a degree course in sport and physical education at the University could be made useful in the various organisational aspects.

A misnomer
During the presentation of the candidates contesting the various yearly awards which is now being organised solely by the Sportswriters Association, the Minister responsible for Sport is usually invited to deliver what is wrongly termed as a ‘policy speech.’ The occasion should be substituted by an all-day activity with useful discussions, practical suggestions, approval of a new approach with deadlines for implementing the first changes which will not only set the record straight but which will embark on the needed reforms befitting this modern world. If the sportswriters association insist on their moment of glory then another appropriate day must be named.

The choice of topics is vital for the success of the occasion
Funding, facilities, participation, ‘sport for all,’ sport within the community, the involvement of local councils, the voluntary sector, sport for different age-groups including senior citizens, sport within the family, school sport and the involvement of more women in administrative position could be included on the agenda.
Funding of sport is a favourite subject everywhere. The pitiful excuses due to lack of finances may not be totally ignored, instead emphasis should be made on how the commercial aspect should be involved and how sport needs sponsors, without forgetting that the sponsors also need sport, and very badly too!

Participation must be increased
It is sad to learn that 25 per cent of students attending primary and secondary schools miss their weekly session for different reasons. The full use and maintenance of facilities is another important subject. There are a number of useful facilities which should be used at all hours. All schools’ gyms, for example, must be open for the public after school hours under the guidance of professional persons, while participants must pay a fee.
‘Sport for All’ is a most important topic which cannot be ignored. Creating a sport culture as a life long activity is another sore point.
Though we may have the appropriate structures, a glance at what is happening in other countries will be helpful. The Swedish approach, ‘Aussie Sport’ and what is actually taking places in small countries like Cyprus and others should help.
The Congress will not lead to world titles or Olympic golds, but will certainly help towards the implementation of a dynamic plan which could be adopted after the contribution of those who are regarded as experts in the field.
Knowing the Maltese attitude, we will hear one million excuses for not staging such an important event. But those would be merely petty excuses; so let’s get on with it.
‘Don’t tell me, show me!’

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