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19930627_Judo reflections

    Envic Galea is the president of the Malta Judo Association and a member of the Malta Olympic Committee.

    In the bar of a hotel in Sliema, I was airing my problems to Ercolano Casadei on the developing sport on such a small island as Malta.   
    This was 1980, just before we left the hotel to go to the Mediterranean Conference Centre, where the Weight Lifting Championships for the small countries where being held.
    Ercolano Casadei was then the President of the Federazione Samarinese Lotta. Pesi Judo, in Italy and San Marino, they have one federation for Wrestling, Weightlifting and Judo, and Charles Mifsud the founder of Weightlifting Association in Malta had asked me to give him some help in the organisation which I gladly accepted.
    Opposition
    We had concluded that the opposition we get in higher championships such as the European Championships, Mediterranean Games and Olympic Games, was too high and we needed an international event at our level in order to gain the initial experience.
    We discussed that this trend of special championships was already being felt. Weightlifting and shooting were already organising event on this basis. Sicily featuring frequently.
    Mini Olympics
    We then came to the conclusion that we should promote "The Mini Olympics." We had stuck on the idea of the "Games," since we also concluded that there was more power in number. 
    We would find it hard to pressure any authority in the construction of sports facilities, for only a handful of athletes, congregating for one sport, however a Mini Olympics would be another case. 
    We agreed to lobby our Olympic Committees and proposed this idea. The rest is history, five years later the Games of the Small States of Europe were held in San Marino. Thirteen years later here in Malta. We were right. We now have better sports facilities and I can now say that were it not that we held the Games in Malta it would have been some time before we would.
    Tremendous success 
    The judo experience in there Maltese edition of the Games, I should say were a tremendous success,  when you consider that we fielded nine athletes in the nine weight categories contested and six of these were medal winners.
    We even managed to make history by introducing Judo For Women and the blue and white Judogis (Judo Suits) for the first time.
    We hope that for the next edition, we will also be successful in introducing the Team Events for men and women.    
    I have great temptation of telling you all about our great day that Thursday 27 May in Gozo, where Jackie in just 13 seconds of Judo went through the semi-finals and finals to give us the first gold for Malta and how we suffered when we lost another gold when Laurie Pace was penalised in the last 11 seconds.
 However a lot has been said and shown I only hope that the Maltese public is happy with our performance. 
    I know the Gozo public was very pleased with us by winning the first gold for Malta in Gozo. These events were given such great importance by the International Judo Federation that the president of the European Judo Union  vice president of Austrian Olympic Committee, the treasurer of the EJU and president of the Irish Olympic Committee made it a point to attend.
    The I.F. representative was the sports director himself,  Francois Besson, the same person who controlled the Judo Olympic Games. Their comments were all the same. The Judo organisation was of international level. Here I have to thank the 77 strong  team of officials and helpers who made it possible.
    Much has also been said about the poor judo fraternity and our friends the Gozitans were very sorry that we could not get the same treatment as the other sports by having direct coverage. 
    However we know that PBS has three hours of filming, it would be only appropriate if time could be found to feature the highlights, considering the amount of expenses and time of organisation we spent in order to make our sport easy to follow with simplified score boards and the blue and white judo suits after all this change in Europe was done with television in mind.
    Mediterranean Games
    After the Games, the Olympic Committe, met to discuss the Mediterranean Games and Jackie Xuereb and Laurie Pace could not go since the women judo is not yet included in the programme (first time will be in Genova in 1995).
    Jason Trevisan was proposed but had to be dropped due to an elbow injury sustained in training and injured again in the Games.
    This will be the first time since the Split edition that judo does not have a representative, although Godfery Bezzina obtained the best result in Judo in the Games when he placed fourth in Split.
    We will be sending three of our youth representatives, for the European Youth Olympic Games in Holland next month.
    Most of the girls with the exception of Jakie Xuereb will be participating this weekend in the international judo tournament in Sardinia Alghero, where Laurie Pace has been a medal winner in the past four editions.
    Past and present
    This is the past and the present, I confess that when i look back at the past i feel that what they say about us Maltese is true,  we are lucky! I cannot speak on behalf of other sports but i know first hand what we have to endure in the administration of our sports, how several times we end up fighting friends to acquire basic training facilities.
    Everybody is saying now at long last we have our professional sports facilities.
    You will be correct to say that if you were involved in football or basketball, and now athletics, swimming and shooting.
    Some sports are lucky in having access to clubs and outside training facilities, such as tennis, squash, cycling and sailing. However the only multi purpose training hall available to the rest of the indoor sport federations is the Gozo Sports Pavilion and an excellent one at that. It has only one handicap, the Gozo Channel. 
    It is perfectly available to the Gozitans but we Maltese find it a problem and expensive to depend totally on it. In any case it is too small to satisfy the requirements of all those indoor sports who are looking for a headquarters to prepare their national team.
    The university gymnasium is planned to be built next year, however I have doubts how many sports will be accommodated.
    Through the MOC, I have asked for plans of the University sports facilities before these ar built, we never received these plans.
    I had explained that only a few feet of modification, when still possible, to a group of stores, makes the hall right for table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling or judo, to give some examples.
    These plans were never forthcoming, I understand that with the rush to have everything ready for the games the last thing you wanted was adjusting the plans a few feet here and there.
    Postmortem
    Now that the games are over and we have been promised a postmortem as soon as the Mediterranean Games are over, we have to have this important brainstorming to look forward to win we want from our sport.
    It will be as good or as bad as we deserve it. We , in judo, have already had our postmortem. Last Thursday we held a meeting for our key people, involving our club leaders, council members and officials at our headquarters at the Hilton and we unanimously agreed that in order to face the ever growing commitments being put on our sport we have to - 
    a) consolidate on a professional level our headquarters, with the provision of coursed for instructors, referees, and administrators,
    b) provide adequate training facilities to our junior and senior, 
    c) encourage the professional set up of more judo clubs or centres to recruit more talent.
    Fortunately the Judo Association is blessed with a substantial number of young judokas and we only need to identify the talents and nurse them into future champions.
    We hope Malta is happy with our efforts. I can only say we try hard but we now need the Maltese to add their support to these efforts.
                                                                                                Envic Galea
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