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Artistic Swimming

Izzo launches electoral programme as he steps up drive for ASA presidency bid

Karl Izzo launched his electoral programme ahead of his bid to be elected as the new president of the Aquatic Sports Association.

The Malta waterpolo national team coach will go head-to-head with current ASA president Joe Caruana Curran in the governing body’s elections on Tuesday, November 29.

In an event held on Tuesday evening, there were several former and current national team players present as well as several officials who are involved in aquatic sport in Malta.

Izzo said that his mission was to support all local aquatic clubs in the achievement of their goals and objectives, whilst driving nationwide collaboration to make aquatic sports easily accessible to the Maltese population.

Izzo’s electoral programme is based on five pillars namely strategic plan, financial stability, education programmes and best practices, attractive competitions and Gozo.

Strategic plan

The strategic plan is divided into a short-term, medium-term and long-term strategy.

Among the short-term objectives, one finds the appointment of a technical director for all aquatic sport disciplines, namely waterpolo (men and women), swimming, artistic swimming and open water swimming.

“The technical director will be responsible for drafting and implementing a five-year programme designed and aimed at the holistic improvement of aquatic sports,” the programme says.

“The technical director will also be responsible for setting up the ‘talent scout’ initiative – a comprehensive and transparent framework aimed at identifying grading and selecting the best upcoming talent the sport has to offer.”

In waterpolo, every age group/category will be assigned a dedicated team of technical staff comprising of coach, assistant coach, team manager, physiotherapist and medical representative.

Izzo is also planning to set up an ASA Waterpolo Academy – aimed at catering to young players between the age of 13 and 17, whereby selected players will have the opportunity to train and take part in junior tournaments abroad, giving the opportunity to train with the best talents in the sport as well as exhibiting their skills on an international stage.

Other short-term goals include the upgrading of the association’s statute, the appointment of a new disciplinary board and signing MOUs with various associations and federations to provide a better framework for future collaboration and to establish a common intention.

In the medium term, there are plans in place so that the academy will step up its efforts to ensure that upcoming talent will be prepared ad ready to start a professional career by providing scholastic and sport guidance and assistance.

“Scholarships and other assistance will be provided to maximise support,” the programme said.

“The success of the academy is very much dependent on the clubs.

“For this reason, an academy sub-committee will be created in order to consult with all nurseries to define and implement new development strategies,” Izzo said.

“Rebuilding relationships with clubs through the launch of a continuous, structured and planned discussion framework, including technical executive committees, sub-committees, and technical/coaching staff.”

As regards the long-term strategy, Izzo is pledging that the ASA will be committed to driving a cultural change within the sport by introducing medical/scientific information reviews, access to data and access to facilities.

This includes the set-up of a centralised patient database, which also includes physiological data, that will be accessible to club administrators and coaches.

“There will be assistance to club members in getting funds to engage a sports science, or sports medicine or strength and conditioning practitioner,” the programme said.

“There will also be a subsidised and musculoskeletal screening for all athletes every two years.”

Financial stability and sustainability

To guarantee financial due diligence, Izzo is proposing that an independent audit firm will be appointed to prepare an audit accounts report. The final report will be published and forwarded to all ASA members to guarantee full transparency.

A new finance sub-committee will be set up to ensure the necessary scrutiny and transparency of the association’s financial proceeds and expenditures it will also be responsible for providing the necessary guidelines and assistance to all waterpolo, and swimming artistic clubs to access EU funds.

“One of the main sources of income for the association is sponsorships. For this reason, all existing sponsorship deals will be reviewed and re-negotiated wherever necessary to ensure that they are truly representative of the value generated through branding and branding recognition,” Izzo said.

Izzo is planning to hold negotiations so that the ASA takes over the Tal-Qroqq Complex.

“The ASA needs to secure assets that can be used to generate income that can be used to be re-invested in the sport and to support clubs,” he said.

There are also plans to hold talks with the Malta Tourism Authority to help clubs financially to participate in European Cups, the national teams at all levels and all aquatic athletes representing Malta abroad.

“Clubs will no longer be asked to pay the affiliation/registration fee,” the programme said.

“All national coaches will be paid a monthly remuneration and national team athletes will be paid an equal yearly allowance. This will be based on attendance, participation and achievements.”

Expertise and Education

This pillar is based on three major points:

  • To define and launch a continuous learning and development programme for committee members and staff covering sports management and sports administration.
  • To introduce dual-path career courses to prepare athletes going abroad.
  • New referee certification courses and existing referee development and recertification courses.
  • Creating a better refereeing structure.
  • Revive referee exchanges and international appointments.
  • To promote new observers on referees.

Domestic competitions restructuring

As regards domestic competitions, Izzo is pledging that the ASA will be committed to keep investing and organising all current competitions. The technical waterpolo committee will draft a three-year plan so all clubs can plan before.

Junior competitions will have a new format, with monthly competitions starting from October to May and all games will be played on Sunday at the National Pool with the possibility of using in-house club pools.

During the period of June to September, youths will be participating in friendly tournaments, and international tournaments as well as having the opportunity to train with the national team squads.

In women’s waterpolo there are plans to launch a U-17 league as from 2023-24 and a U-25 league between 2024-25.

ASA with the help of the Centre for Physical Education and Sport, will introduce interschool competitions.

As regards swimming, Izzo is planning to increase the experience for our swimmers with a wide variety of affordable competitions abroad.

“We would like to build a relationship with foreign clubs which undoubtedly will lead to further international opportunities in the future,” he said.

There are also plans to organise more local and international competitions for artistic swimming athletes and the technical committee will seek strategic help from a leading country to improve the choreography.

Open water swimming will be included in the new ASA stature and the governing body will not only be responsible to organise national championships but also to introduce a national team for the sport.

As regards refereeing, there will be coordination between ASA and the Malta Waterpolo Referees Association assessors panel to award appointments.

The ASA together with the MWRA will be committed to signing MOU with foreign associations/federations to provide better exchanges and collaboration.

Gozo

With Gozo set to have a state-of-the-art Olympic-size swimming pool, Izzo is proposing a memorandum of understanding to be signed with the Ministry for Gozo, the Ministry for Education and Sport as well as SportMalta to utilise this venue to its full potential.

Among the activities proposed for this new venue are interschool competitions organised with the help of the Centre for Physical Education and Sport, in-house training camps for Maltese national teams and athletes and international competitions such as HABA WABA festival will be organised for the first time in Gozo.

A technical director will be appointed specifically for Gozo and will need to work closely with all the technical committees to promote aquatic sport in Gozo.

There are also plans to open discussion with LEN to organise the European Waterpolo Championship in Gozo.

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