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Watch: ‘Let all athletes be part of the sporting community’ says Special Olympics Malta director Anna Calleja

Special Olympics Invitational Games start in Valletta on Saturday

The 2022 Special Olympics Malta Invitational Games will get under way this evening with a spectacular opening ceremony in St George’s Square in Valletta.

Special Olympics Malta national director Anna Calleja is hopeful that the 2022 Invitational Games will help to break some barriers and hurdles for disabled sportsmen in Malta.

Over 1,000 athletes from 23 countries will take part in this inaugural edition which will feature six disciplines, namely athletics, swimming, bowling, bocce, table tennis and football.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

The Malta contingent will be featuring over 400 athletes in this historical event and

Special Olympics Malta National Director Calleja described these Games as the biggest sporting event to be held in Malta after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very much looking forward to these Games which will see Malta represented by over 400 athletes in six different disciplines,” Calleja told the Times of Malta.

“I am excited to see our athletes compete against their fellow peers from 22 other countries who come not only from Europe but also beyond.

“This is a huge event that will be inscribed in the history of Special Olympics.

“These Games are going to be not only the biggest sporting event to be held in Malta after the COVID-19 pandemic but also in terms of mental disability.”

Calleja said she hoped that these Invitational Games will be an opportunity to send the important message that sport can unite everyone together.

“Sports inclusivity is the strongest message that these Games should send to everyone in Malta,” Calleja said.

“These Games are an opportunity for each and everyone of us to look up to these athletes who each time they fell, they had the energy to pick themselves up; every time they found a barrier, they managed to go through it; and every time they had a hurdle in front of them, they managed to surpass it.

“Sport unites everyone together and for these athletes it is their life. The main call behind these Games is to let these athletes be part of the sporting community in Malta.

“The legacy that these Games will leave behind should be a message to all the public and all sporting associations in Malta to open their doors and include Special Olympics athletes into their fold.

“They should helpe these athletes practise their favourite sport and make them feel part of the Maltese sporting family irrespective of whether they are professional or amateur athletes.”

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