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19950521_President augurs athletes successful participation in Luxembourg edition

    The athletes representing Malta in the forthcoming Small Nations Games in Luxembourg yesterday paid a courtesy call, on the President, Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, at the Palace in Valletta.
    Addressing those present, including the officials accompanying the athletes, Dr Mifsud Bonnici said: "We all have a function. When you are in Luxembourg, what you will do there will reflect not only on yourselves, but also on the country."
    The President said he expected good behaviour from everyone. "We all have to keep our flag clean, not only during our sporting activities, but also during our leisure time."
    He also referred to a part of the MOC president's speech a few moments earlier, with regards to schoolchildren. "Do not let the children down. They look upon you as role models. If you are successful, this will be reflected in their future." he said.
    He also said it was important that Maltese sport levels go up. "We have to improve and it is only through serious preparation that this can be finally achieved," he said
    He also referred to the drug problem which could be defeated by participation in sport. "Those who are fed up with life turn to drugs to try to find some consolation. But this is bad and can be defeated through sport which is a pleasure of life."
    Near the end of his speech, Dr Mifsud Bonnici urged the athletes to have confidence in their own abilities. "Go to Luxembourg and obtain the results which you deserve and which all Malta is expecting," he said.
    Earlier, the Minister of Justice and the Arts, Dr Michael Refalo, who is also responsible for sport, said it was his duty as minister to help sport wherever possible.
    It was here that he announced that his ministry and decided to apply the 1993 bonus scheme again this year as an incentive to the athletes to be successful.
    He said the government believed that sacrifice marited compensation. "We know that you have gone through considerable sacrifice to prepare yourselves well for these Games. Even if you do not win a medal, but manage to improve your personal bests it is proof that you are doing your best in the name of the counrty," he told the athletes. 
    Dr Refalo said European Sports Ministers were shocked a few days ago in Lisbon, Portugal, when they heard that the Council of Europe was thinking of reducing its expenditure and resources on sport. "This simply does not make sense," he said.
    HE said sport is an exercise of popular participation. "It helps to increase friendship and gives the opportunity to everyone to participate," he said.
    Dr Refalo said the ministers agreed to insist with the Council of Europe to maintain its current expenditure in favour of sport.
    At the end he also augured success to all the athletes. "You deserve it," he told them.
    The first speaker was Magistrate Gini Camilleri, the president of the Malta Olympic Committee who thanked the President for giving the contingent the opportunity to meet him and to augur success for themselves in this adventure in Luxembourg.
    He said the MOC hoped that the Luxembourg Games would be of great benefit to Maltese sport and he was sure that Maltese would be able to obtain the best results possible.
    He told the President that the athletes had been prepared in the best way. "They deserve to get the best results. We have done everything within our limits to compete honourably and satisfactorily," he said.
    He said the recent visits to schools were very important contacts especially with regard to the future. "It is these schoolchildren who will have to continue the traditions of sport in future," he said.
    At the end of his speech, he thanked the government, and especially Dr Refale, for their full support and for what they were doing for sport in general. " I also take this opportunity to appeal to the government to start thinking seriously on a net structure for sport, even having a legal base, if possible. When we have that, we will be able to plan a better future for sport of these 
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