Parliamentary Secretary for Sport plans sit-down talks to turn project into reality
Athletics Malta has launched a major infrastructural investment project at the Matthew Micallef St John Athletics Stadium in Marsa with the aim of creating a world-class venue for local athletes while supporting the association’s drive at transforming the area into an international sporting hub.
The investment was announced by Andy Grech, Athletics Malta president, in the presence of Clifton Grima, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport, as well as officials from the Maltese Olympic Committee and Sport Malta.
Interestingly, there are four current track and field athletes behind the project, namely Paula Grech, Dario Mangion, Julian Mifsud and Luke Micallef.
Grech explained that this new investment, which looks at the hosting of the Games of Small States of Europe in 2023 and beyond, has been planned to accommodate elite athletes from all over the world, boosting Malta’s name as a leading sports tourism destination in Europe.
Besides the Class 1 athletics track, the facility will house wet and dry rehabilitation facilities, a sport science centre, physiotherapy areas, state of the art weightlifting gym, lecture rooms, offices and conference rooms, a restaurant with a panoramic room, a dedicated VIP and media room as well as a dedicated hostel on the premises.
Athletics Malta is closely collaborating with Sport Malta, which is also investing in nearby facilities adjacent to the stadium, in order to transform the area into a veritable sporting hub.
The Athletics Malta president further noted that the facility will be one of a few self-sustainable and environmentally friendly athletics stadiums in Europe.
“Environmental governance has became a structural part of the Olympic framework and thinking, yet striking a balance between the potential economic impact, whilst accepting our eco-friendly responsibility is not an easy task,” Grech said.
“Modern stadiums require investment and to make the venues worthwhile, our architects have designed it to be useful the whole year round and resource efficient.
“Our warmup area and grandstand will be covered with photovoltaic panels, which absorb sunlight and provide shelter to our spectators and athletes.
“Rainwater collection and reusable water storage will be used for our rehabilitation area, showers and toilets as well as the irrigation of our infield area.
“Athletics Malta has put forward a proposal which is well positioned to help drastically improve our stance in sport, yet build a local sustainable future.”
On his part, Dr Grima, the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport, welcomed the proposal made by Athletics Malta and said that the government enjoys a track record which saw him improve the sports infrastructure in Malta and in particular in the same area of the Matthew Micallef St John Stadium.
“It’s very positive to see local associations come forward to us with tangible and sustainable projects that mirror their vision,” Dr Grima said.
“As a government we have a track record of working with these local associations. I must say that I was impressed by these proposals and our plan is to sit down with the top officials from Athletics Malta and discuss the project calmly and see where it is possible that it can be implemented.
“We have already completed a project at the Matthew Micallef St John Stadium where we resurfaced the track and turned it to international standards.”
Asked whether given the short timeframe before the organization of the 2023 GSSE would he consider to complete just part of the project before the Games, Dr Grima said: “We had several projects that were completed in phases, such as the basketball pavilion so surely it’s a distinct possibility of doing that.
“The GSSE 2023 is a very important event for our country where we hope to win a lot of medals, so we need to make sure that we do not hamper in anyway our preparations.
“Added to that next year we are also due to host the EurAsia Special Olympics Games which will bring to Malta hundreds of athletes from around the world so we need to make sure that we are in a position to us these facilities.”