The Aquatic Sports Association (ASA) is hopeful of being given the green light by the authorities to have the National Pool open during the summer so the National Waterpolo Championship can be staged, albeit on a shorter format.
The waterpolo pre-season was cut short last month when all sporting activities were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of interruption, the Enemed Cup was drawing to a conclusion while the Winter League was just a few weeks a way from getting under way.
Joe Caruana Curran, president of the ASA, told the Sunday Times of Malta that local governing body of aquatic sport is still in the dark on when the association’s activities can resume but is keeping his fingers crossed that the COVID-19 situation in Malta will improve in the coming weeks which would lead sports venues being reopened for the athletes.
“At the moment, we are a bit in the dark of what will happen this summer,” Caruana Curran said.
“I meet with the waterpolo club presidents every week to discuss the situation and we are hoping that by mid-May we can be given a clearer indication of what will happen.”
The ASA president said that having so much uncertainty on the situation, it’s difficult to make any plans on what will happen but they are hopeful of having the National Pool re-open in July.
“One possible scenario we’re considering is that the National Pool will re-open at the start of July,” Caruana Curran said.
“That would enable us to give all waterpolo teams four weeks of preparation before we can start the national championship in August. Given this year’s circumstances we are looking at a much shorter summer season which will come to a close in October.”
Asked whether that will mean that the format of the National Championship will have to be changed, the ASA president said: “Probably, yes as a result of the available playing field.
“Our goal is not just to have a championship but to ensure that it will be a huge attraction for the hundreds of waterpolo enthusiasts in the country. One has to keep in mind that this summer the clubs will not be able to field any overseas players, for obvious reasons, so we need to be sure that we can create an exciting competition.”
The ASA president said that the most worrying factor behind the COVID-19 situation was the repercussions it will have from a financial point of view for both the clubs and the local governing body itself.
“The most worrying factor, for me, of this whole situation is to see what financial impact it will have on both the clubs and the association,” Caruana Curran said.
“The fact that clubs will not have any overseas players engaged is important as it would see the clubs save thousands of euros in expenditure. All clubs agreed to this decision unanimously and surely they have safeguarded themselves for further damage.
“One has to remember that having all the pools in the clubs closed is a big blow for them as these represent their main source of commercial revenue.
“Added to that, until the clubs will be able to reopen their pool facilities, we will not be in a position to stage the waterpolo competitions in the U-13’s, U-15’s, U-17’s and U-20’s too.”
On the other hand, the ASA too has also lost a lot of money with the suspension of international competitions.
“The COVID-19 has hit the ASA hard too,” Caruana Curran said.
“The ASA lost a lot of money which was going to come from staging of a number of international competitions. In June, we were supposed to organise the European Championships of synchronised swimming while there was also a qualifying tournament of the European U-19’s Waterpolo championship that was also called off.
“From these two competitions, the association missed out on generated
from the sports tourism schemes.
“Besides, our U-16’s waterpolo selection were due to travel to Greece between July 5 and 12 to compete in the world championships but that too has been postponed. The swimmers, on the other hand, were expected to compete in the European Championships in Budapest which have also been cancelled.
“But this is the reality and we need to get on with it and try to be positive and hope things will improve.”