The Ta’ Qali indoor pool could well remain open as the Times of Malta can reveal that talks are ongoing between Parliamentary Secretary for Sport, Dr Clifton Grima, Sport Malta, and the Malta Football Association so that the facility will be transferred to the government.
On Wednesday, the Malta Football Association announced that during its Executive Committee, president Bjorn Vassallo said that 25 metre pool will be closed as it was not financially viable for the local governing body to maintain, particularly following the challenges faced during the pandemic.
Sources told Times of Malta that the long-term plan was to redevelop the national stadium, creating a smaller England-style stadium, commercialising part of the area around it, and making it a place where football fans can have a positive experience.
The semi-Olympic 25-metre pool was opened some 20 years ago and still run on the technology of the time it was opened. Changing the operating systems would require a hefty investment.
However, on Friday, the Times of Malta learnt that Sport Malta had started talks with the Malta Football Association to take over the venue.
Contacted by the Times of Malta, Dr Grima confirmed the government’s plans on the venue.
“As soon as the report came out that the Malta Football Association was planning to close down the venue, we immediately started conversation on the MFA on how we could take over the venue,” Dr Grima said.
Although discussions are still at an early stage, it is understood that the facility will be run by SportMalta with the Malta Football Association receiving an annual lease fee.
At present, apart from the Ta’ Qali pool, there is only one indoor swimming pool on the island which is situated at Inspire in Marsascala.
The government has currently two projects ongoing to construct an indoor pool, one at the Cottonera Sports Complex and the other in Rabat, Gozo and are scheduled to be completed in the next two years.
Should talks come to a positive end and the Ta’ Qali pool will remain open will surely be welcomed by the thousands of sportsmen in Malta who used the facility every week.
In fact, when the news broke out of the venue’s closure several athletes expressed their disconten.
Triathlete Fabio Spiteri expressed discontent that 10 years of coaching at the heated pool in Ta’ Qali was coming to an end due to permanent closure.
“It’s a real pity that we subsidise everything in Malta but not sport. Hundreds and hundreds of kids, teens, adults and elderly used this pool. Will be missed!! Sport is never a priority!! (I) am pretty sure MFA has other projects in mind otherwise a solution to keep pool open would have been found. Maybe footballers could have used the pool too for fitness and rehabilitation,” he wrote on Facebook.