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Watch: Athletics Malta project an opportunity to elevate Maltese sport, says president

Athletics Malta president Andy Grech made a passionate appeal to the government to give its green light on the governing body’s proposals of turning the Matthew Micallef St John Stadium in Marsa into a high-performance centre as it’s a perfect opportunity to help Maltese athletes succeed on the international scene.

The project entails turning the Marsa Stadium into a facility that will house among others wet and dry rehabilitation facilities, a sports science centre, physiotherapy areas, and a state of the art weightlifting room among others.

Watch: Athletics Malta president Andy Grech on Sports Talk. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

“It is an ambitious project,” Grech said.

“We are looking for a high-performance centre that will cater for everyone. When I say everyone, I mean whoever practices sport can use the facilities. We are targeting to increase the industry of sport in Malta. When I say industry, I mean that we would not only be able to cater for local athletes only but also foreign.

“It’s not just bringing foreign athletes for training camps and spending two days training here but also organizing international events and bringing to our country a lot of exposure.

“The weather in winter is in our favour and I’m sure athletes from other countries wouldn’t resist the temptation of coming over here.

“Apart from that, having such a facility would also boost the resources for local coaches to groom our athletes. Inevitably it will raise the motivational levels of our coaches and attract more to our sport and that will inevitably boost our preparation for the 2023 GSSE Games which will be held in Malta.”

Grech reiterated his point that this is a facility that will boost the whole Maltese sporting fraternity and the government simply cannot afford to turn its back to it if they seriously want to achieve success at international level.

“Our goal is to have a facility that will be a sports hub here in Marsa where other federations are close by too,” Grech said.

“This is a project that can boost our country not only from a sporting concept by also in terms of sports tourism and finances. Other countries similar GDP and population to us do it. Take Cyprus, they invested in sport, they invested in one facility and look at where they are now.

“They believed in this project and today they have European, world and Olympic champions

“Iceland the same thing, they invested in one facility, saw how much potential and buzz it can generate and see where are they now. Semi-finalists at European Championships and they qualified for the World Cup, a country which have a smaller population than us but they believed in the power of sport.

“We cannot say that we want it and stop chasing it. Here there is an opportunity to be close to their wavelenght and I hope that we can take an opportunity like this.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Sport, Clifton Grima, had looked impressed when the project was presented last month and had promised to Athletics Malta that he would sit down with the association to discuss the project to see whether it can be done.

However, the Athletics Malta president said that so far there has been no contact with the government.

“Unfortunately, so far we hadn’t any scheduled talks,” Athletics Malta president said.

“The Parliamentary Secretary is interested, how can he be not, as we included everything he has discussed in the past three four years into context. So this is a project that includes everything he talked about in the last years.

“Whether it is done it’s a question mark but if we are serious on sport and if we are serious about how far we can take elite sport, a complex like this is going to benefit not only athletics but anyone on the country who is serious on sports.”

The Athletics Malta president warned that some of the rooms at the Matthew Micallef St John Stadium in Marsa need to be fixed urgently as they pose a danger to the athletes.

“If you look at some of the rooms here you will be shocked. Some of the rooms here are dangerous, you won’t step into a room believe me. Water is leaking, the ceiling might collapse at any second. Something needs to be done or we are risking an accident at any second.”

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