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Watch: Karl Izzo confirms intention to contest ASA presidency elections this month

Professionalism,transparency at the heart of his candidature

Karl Izzo believes that the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta needs a more professional and transparent leadership and it is for this reason that tomorrow he will submit his candidacy to become the new president of the local governing body.

Izzo, who has served as Malta national waterpolo coach since 2013, said that during the past few weeks he had been approached by several local clubs who feel that a change in leadership is necessary to ensure Aquatic sport in Malta takes a step forward and said that he is ready to embark on this new challenge in his career.

Video: Karl Andrew Micallef

The decision comes just a few months after Izzo led the senior waterpolo national team to an historic 14th placing at the European Championship in Split – Malta’s best-ever result in the continental championships.

Izzo’s decision to submit his candidacy for ASA presidency will see him go head-to-head with the current incumbent Joe Caruana Curran, who has been at the helm of the association for the past 12 years, in the elections pencilled for November 29.

“On Monday, I will submit my nomination for the post of president of the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta,” Izzo told the Times of Malta.

“I am contesting for the best interest of all aquatic sports. In doing so, my aim is to introduce and sustain professional and transparent leadership along with financial sustainability with the participation and collaboration of like-minded individuals.

“I have been asked by the clubs to repeat the success achieved collectively as national waterpolo teams and to attain it at association level, where we will have the best international relations for the benefit of our youths and clubs.

“Joe Caruana Curran, the current president, has done some good work during the past 12 years but I have been asked to submit my nomination not only from Maltese clubs, who feel a change in leadership is needed but also from top officials at international governing bodies LEN and FINA who want to strengthen further their ties with several European countries.”

Izzo said that although he comes from the waterpolo sector, he has made it clear that if he is elected he will be a president for all aquatic sport and has already held talks with several stakeholders, not only from waterpolo, but also swimming, synchronised swimming and open water swimming.

“It is clear that the ASA is not just waterpolo,” Izzo said.

“I may come from the waterpolo camp, but in our association, we also have swimming, synchronised swimming as well as open water swimming. I have already had a meeting with stakeholders from all these disciplines to discuss my vision for the future.

“The programme that I will be presenting in the coming days, is based on five pillars and all proposals can be put into practice in the next three years. I will put a person of my trust to ensure that these proposals will be done. It’s not going to be easy, but I will have a team that is coming from different sectors that will guarantee a more serious approach that can help aquatic sport take a step forward.

“Every discipline will have a technical committee that will be spearheaded by a technical director who will be working closely with the respective national team coaches and will be responsible to see what needs to be done to ensure that we give our athletes the best possible preparation.

“I believe that with the strong contacts I have abroad we can provide a serious training plan that will include international camps as well as exchanges with foreign clubs and federations that will help our athletes get better results.”

Financial stability

A major problem for the ASA in the past two years has been financial assistance. In fact, in the past months, the governing body lost a number of sponsors and Izzo said that a serious business plan is needed to give more financial stability to the governing body.

“It’s no secret, that finances have been a major problem for the ASA,” Izzo said.

“I have already met a number of businessmen to try and encourage them to give us their financial backing. We need to do a serious business plan so that the National Pool will be run by the ASA and try to embark on a marketing plan to start generating income that will help us to finance the national teams and the Maltese clubs who are the heart of our governing body and we need to work together.

“My goal is to involve administrators from our various disciplines to be more active in the federation as that is the only way to take the sport forward.”

Izzo said that the results achieved by the various national teams during the past months has attracted more youngsters to the various sport and it’s important now to further boost this drive.

“The excellent results achieved by our national teams has seen a rapid rise in the number of children practising waterpolo, swimming, synchronised and open water swimming,” Izzo said.

“Clubs have registered an increase in participation. One open water swimming club has around 180 swimmers registered which is remarkable.

“Education is a major pillar in my programme that will see us form a team of coaches that will go in schools in Malta and Gozo to attract more youngsters to the sport.

“I will work a lot to ensure our coaches, assistant coaches and referees will be certified and that is key to be professional in the way we operate.

“The fact that we are going to have more infrastructure available, with the pools in Sirens, Neptunes up and running, Birżebbuġa ASC working to install a heating system, while there are new pools at the Cottonera Sports Complex and Gozo close to completion – that is a huge boost to attract more young blood.”

The construction of an Olympic-size pool in Rabat, Gozo, is set to be a major boost for aquatic sport on the Sister Island and Izzo said that they will work hard to discover new talent in all disciplines.

“Gozo is very important for us and is one of our five pillars,” Izzo said.

“I will give a lot of importance to Gozo not because they are going to have an Olympic-size pool but because we have the opportunity to scout new talent and we will do that by sending our coaches to the various schools there.

“We are also planning to organise international competitions in the state-of-the-art pool that is being constructed in Gozo. I have always admired the Gozitan athletes who every day make a lot of sacrifices to come down to Malta and hold their training sessions.

“In Gozo, there is a lot of young talent and I am planning to put a technical director for Gozitan athletes to make sure that we bring the best out of these athletes.”

The ASA elections will come just a few months before the ­start of the Games of the Small States of Europe which will see Maltese swimmers gunning for medals for Malta.

Asked what his plans are to step up the governing body’s preparations for the Games, Izzo said: “Swimming is a very important sport that is receiving a lot of financial support from the Maltese Olympic Committee and Sport Malta.

“The major problem for swimmers is the lane assignment at the National Pool, and I think that a solution for that would be that national team swimmers train with their clubs.

“But I have a lot of projects in mind for swimming, which include training camps abroad, exchanges with foreign clubs and federations as well as giving the opportunity to our best talent to train with top swimmers abroad.

“As you can see that there is a lot to be done. I am a person who sets high ambitions… I never believed that we could compete in four successive European Championships, or finish 14th overall.

“I love sport and I am committed to do all I can to put Aquatic Sport in Malta in the best conditions possible as we have great potential.”

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