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20000220_New concepts for Maltese sport

    The president of the Malta Judo Association, Envic Galea, is of the opinion that unless associations such as the Malta Judo Federation and Associated Disciplines, the tennis federation and the yatchting federation have their own premises, they can never expect to produce performers as they used to do in the past. 
    Till now, the three federations are among a few associations who have yet no place of  their own where to administer and practise their sport.
    All the three federations are affiliated to the Olympic Committee and have provided many successful results including several gold medals in the Games for European Small States not to mention the Mediterranean Games and the Commonwealth Games.
    But according to Mr Galea, such associations will have to embark on programmes of their own. "We cannot rely on government aid only. The Judo camp is embarking on a project whereby we will have a Lm1 million centre which will include most amenities which one can imagine, including a school of sport. Same might say that the problem is where to get money from. But i do not believe that this is the real problem if we are convinced that we can turn in into a commercially viable premises," he said.
    Mr Galea said he would expect government to give a helping hand. "The authorities have already given the MJA Lm36,000 to build a hall. But we have now been faced with a reduced Lm8,910 bill by the Planning Authority after we applied for the project. We expected to be exempt from paying such bills, being a non-profit making association," he said.
    Mr Galea said something must be done quickly to help fund local sport, especially the associations which show an initiative. "The MFA has been exemplary in this aspect. They are lucky enough to have a certain income derived from FIFA and UEFA competitions, but they have made the right investment and it is there for everyone to see. We must all follow their example not just admire it. They are a highly successful organisation and this must be attributed to their professional set-up, something which the remaining associations lack at the moment," he claimed.
    The MJA president said he felt something on the same lines as it done in England with their now famous lottery, should also be done here. "Comparing the population of England to that of Malta, it is not difficult to come to a conclusion that sport in Malta would benefit to the tune of Lm3 million a year which will help with the building of new structures and enhancing the administration," he said.
    Mr Galea added: "At present, it is obvious we have to raise our own funds. That is already a big problem, but as a non-profit making organisation why should we not be treated on the same line as, for example, the Scouts, who are give particular treatment?," he asked.
    Mr Galea said it was possible to have their centre run on commerical lines, such as the national pool. "Even there, however, exist some problems. They also need government help and we, as an association, are not able to guarantee anything, unless we are accepted as a Foundation, or a public company or a limited liability company," he said.
    "At present, we have not even studied on how access into the European Union would affect sport in Malta. We do not even know if there will be any grants (structural finds) or loans allocated to sports. This is very important and we must do everything possible to see that all finds available are made use  of in a professional way," he remarked. 
    The MJA president, who is also a vice-president of the European Judo Union, said he felt the Malta Olympic Committee  should also do its part. "There must be a study whereby a solution is to be found to help these unlucky associations.
    The constitution of the MOC should be changed in a way as to include such work and not just the representation of Malta at certain competitions. That is simply why i had proposed the setting up of a Federation of Sport in the past few years," he said.
    He continued: "I had proposed a system on American company lines, whereby the committee will have a managing director and directors for specific jobs with no treasurer and assistants. I am glad the proposal was accepted. That was in 1993, after the Malta Games and it reached its peak in 1997 with the Games in Iceland, our most successful participation so far," he said.
    Mr Galea asked: "What direction are we to take? The building of our centre is a target I have been aiming as for many years. To get the money back, we are planning to have a centre which will also be a tourist attraction rather than catering only for the Maltese. We need more of such places as the well equipped fitness centres, the bowling centre and the Athenaeum. We will now have Bay Streed in Paceville. But it is certainly not enough. We need more of such contres to be tourist attraction apart from being of service to the Maltese. 
    "What we are planning to have at the centre is a hall with six mats, clinics and an administration block, a main hall, three tennis courts and space for heavy sports, such as powerlifting and weightlifting.
    "In the first floor we plan to include a school for sport (secondary level) for over 12 year-olds. It will cater for most sport and not just judo. There is also space for a library, conference room, a hall and a canteen. This section could also be turned into a multi-purpose hall," he said.
    The MJA president believes that government should not fund such a project. "But we expect it to give us a big helping hand. The problem is: are the authorities prepared to lend a helping hand? If we are to succeed in future, we must have support on a national basis. Parliamentary Secretary Jesmond Mugliett needs the help for all the Cabinet members. There needs to be consensus in the sporting camp as well. And it is the Malta Olympic Committee which seems to be the best equipped to tackle the problem. The Council of Sport and the Sport for All committees do not have such power. I believe that if we have the MOC working hand in hand with the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport on such an issue, it will be in the best interest of sport," he said.