Dr Clifton Grima sets ambitious goal of winning 23 gold medals
Malta’s preparations for the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe were handed a significant boost after the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport announced that it was granting a record €4.9 million to the ten sports federations that will compete in the biennial Games to be held here.
The funds have been made available by the National Development and Social Fund who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SportMalta.
Malta were confirmed as hosts of the 2023 GSSE during the 2019 edition held in Montenegro, during which the Maltese Olympic Committee presented the programme of events that will include ten disciplines namely athletics, basektball, tennis, rugby sevens, squash, sailing, swimming, judo, table tennis and shooting.
Mark Cutajar chief executive officer of SportMalta, said that yesterday’s announcement was unprecedented in the history of Maltese sport.
“This is a massive day for Maltese sport,” Cutajar said.
“When I started at SportMalta in 2013 we came in with the goal of revolutionising Maltese sport and I believe that today’s announcement is a catalyst to complete this revolution. In the last few years, SportMalta has made sure to provide top-quality sport venues and we have still a number of projects to further strengthen this sector.
“When we hosted the GSSE Games in 1993 and 2003 these were remember as a celebration of sport. In 2023, we want the Games to be also another celebration of sport but also to reach some ambitious targets that were never reached before.
“In the last few years, the government has granted the Maltese Olympic Committee €2.7 million to help all of its affiliated federations and today we are giving them almost €5 million which will be used in technical preparation for athletes. Certainly there is no doubt that mirrors the government’s commitment to prioritise sport on its agenda.
“We are doing all we can to ensure the Maltese athletes achieve the best possible result in the 2023 GSSE, but more than that to give them a platform ahead of the 2024 Olympics in France where we hope that we can have the highest number of athletes who qualify to compete in these Games.”
On his part, Dr Clifton Grima, the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport, said that in 2023 the eyes of the European countries will be on Malta who will be hosting the GSSE.
He said that it’s the goal of the government, in accordance with the Maltese Olympic Committee, that Team Malta can win a record 23 gold medals.
“For the 2023 GSSE Games, we are being very ambitious in our objectives. Our goal is to win a record 23 gold medals, something Malta never achieved,” Dr Grima said.
“Many might think that we are setting our expectations too high but we firmly believe in our athletes and we have a lot of faith in them to prepare for the Games in the best possible way and surely this record financial grant will help them to not only reach their targets in two years’ time but will also be a catalyst towards a change in the mindset of Maltese athletes when competing in interantional events.”
On his part, Alex Muscat, Junior Minister for Citizenship and Communities, said that this is the first time that the NDSF is allocating funds for sport.
“It’s not usual that we allocate funds for sport but when I spoke with Dr Grima I soon put my self on board and this will not be the last time that we will inject money in Maltese sport,” Muscat said.
“This is an investment in the abilities of our country and we have a lot of faith in them that they will be able to bring home the best possible result for our country.”
On his part, Ray Ellul, CEO at the National Development and Social Fund, said that this agreement is being made to provide funds for Maltese athletes to develop their ability.
“This is an important moment for us as we believe in the talent of Maltese sportsmen and this can only be developed and attain tangible results if we invest seriously,” Ellul said.
“We hope that these funds will provide with the technical tools for our athletes to continue to step up their preparations both from a physical as well as mental point of view.”
At the end of the press briefing, Luciano Busuttil, SportMalta chairman, and Ray Ellul, NDSF CEO, signed the MOU.