‘Gozo Indoor Hall should be rectified to be recognised internationally’
Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport Clifton Grima said that several football clubs are on the verge of being able to submit their permits applications from the Planning Authority in the coming weeks to start their respective projects that fall under the Law of the Commercialisation of Sports Facilities.
It has been a few years since the government enacted the Law of the Commercialisation of Sports facilities that would enable sports entities in Malta to conduct commercial activities in their own premises that would yield much-needed revenue that can be re-invested within their organisation.
Last year, it was announced that the government had appointed a board to try and accelerate the process so that the first football clubs will apply for the necessary permits and start works on their respective projects.
But so far, we have yet to see the first sports entities given the green light to start their commercialisation ventures.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Dr Grima said that the main reason behind this delay in the process was down to clubs that presented projects that were not in conformity with the spirit of the law and were sent back to the drawing board to downsize their plans.
“The commission for Commercialisation of Sports Facilities was appointed and is meeting continuously with the clubs,” the Parliamentary Secretary said.
“When we talk about projects by clubs who own government’s land that was given to them for a sporting nature, I cannot give permission for projects where the sporting concept of the project is diluted.
“We sat down with a number of clubs that came with projects that I felt would not safeguard sport and the environment and I had no option but to turn them down.
“When we announced the motor racing track we ensured that it would not touch land that is used for agricultural needs or is in an ODZ area as we always look to safeguard these principles.
“Clubs have to understand that the Planning Authority regulations have to be honoured. That is why those who came with big projects we sent them back to revise their plans.
“We need to ensure that these are sustainable projects that will enable the club to re-invest the profit made into their own grassroots sector or their organisation.
“At the moment, there are a number of clubs who are in the process of being able to submit their applications to the Planning Authority. When I say close it means either weeks or months have to pass but we are almost there.”
Dr Grima said that the construction of good standard sporting facilities was crucial so that Malta will finally change some realities that are hindering the progress of the sport.
“Unfortunately, we are living in a reality where we have children who have to wake up at 5am everyday to go for training due to lack of facilities,” Dr Grima said.
“Surely this is not an ideal scenario and I admire the dedication and perseverance of these athletes. But if we don’t have top-level facilities these realities will persist.
“You have children who instead of remaining in bed in the early hours in the morning to get their necessary rest – which is crucial in their physical and mental development – are forced to train in unhuman hours.
“This is why it’s important that we keep working hard to address these problems and having proper facilities will eliminate such problems.”
In Gozo, the Ministry of Gozo is currently responsible for a major sporting project with the construction of an Aquatic Centre that will have an Olympic-size pool that will boost the practice of acquatic sport on the sister island.
There is also the construction of an indoor hall that will enable the organisation of other sporting events such as handball, basketball, and futsal among others.
However, the Times of Malta has information that the indoor hall was built on a smaller scale requested to be able to be fully-recognised to host international competitions.
Gozo Indoor Hall
Asked whether he was aware of this mistake and whether there were plans for the government to readjust the venue so that it can qualify to host international events, Dr Grima said that he was informed that the Ministry of Gozo has been notified and are looking into the problem.
“This project is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Gozo and the Olympic-size pool is its main feature,” Dr Grima said.
“Works on this projects are moving fast so it is completed soon. Without going into the merit on how the indoor hall has been constructed, one has to keep in mind the space available.
“The Ministry of Gozo has been informed of this problem and is looking into it but the main focus remains the Olympic-size pool.”
But pressed on whether he will put pressure so that the Indoor Hall is done in a proper way to be able to host an international event, Dr Grima said: “I am always in favour of having facilities that are 100 per cent certified to host international events.
“It’s disappointing to have facilities that are not up to standard. The recently-announced motor racing track, that will be built in the coming months, will be according to the FIA standards while if I am building a football stadium it has to be according to the FIFA regulations.
“As regards, the Gozo pool project there is no doubt that it will be according to FINA standards. As regarding the indoor hall we have informed the Ministry of Gozo and they assured us that if it will be possible they will arrange the facility to the necessary measurements.”