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ASA president Izzo aiming for more transparency ahead of Enemed Cup

New ASA president Karl Izzo (centre) speaks to a press conference. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Newly appointed Aquatic Sports association (ASA) president Karl Izzo believes waterpolo can move one step forward towards ‘professionality and transparency’ as he kickstarts his reign as the association’s supremo.

Izzo, who was elected president on Tuesday at the ASA’s annual general meeting after former president Joe Caruana Curran withdrew from the running, spoke to the media ahead of the season-opening Enemed Cup which starts today with a programme of four games.

“The beauty of this competition is that is serves as a platform for young players to show off their talent,” Izzo said.

“We should be proud of the local talent we have in our clubs which, as a result of their investment and sacrifices, are bringing in coaches that lead to a better national team.

“I continuously try to show my appreciation towards them because coaching is fundamental even from a young age as the good basis they give pays dividends when they come to play for the national team.

“As I used to say while I was coach, the national team is for the clubs – I would train them for a week and a half, as a continuation of what the clubs would have been doing. The investment made by the clubs is vital.”

Speaking about the next step for the waterpolo national team, Izzo said they are in the process of discussing prospective coaches while appointing technical staff for each category of the sport. While aiming for a January announcement, he also confirmed the new coach will be a new face to Maltese waterpolo.

This change in leadership for the national team will encounter its first test in 2023 as Izzo explained the association had applied to participate in the European championships in October in Tel Aviv, Israel.

One of the challenges which the ASA will be looking to overcome is referee transparency. Izzo said the association would be informing clubs with the referee selection for officiating of their games as a means of full transparency.

Asked about referee assessors, Izzo said they will not be utilized for the Enemed Cup. However, he lauded the progress made since their introduction and said they will be used for the winter and summer leagues.

“The Enemed Cup will not have referee assessors, but I believe the performance of the referees has improved
because of them. While they have always been professional, this has become even better,” the former Malta coach said.

“I won’t exclude increasing the referees from other countries for our summer leagues so that we won’t have just Italian referees but we’ll be holding talks to bring over referees from other countries as well.”

Doable proposals

Having come from a strictly waterpolo background, Izzo will be hoping to bring together no less than four different aquatic sports throughout his three-year tenure. Asked about how he would do this, Izzo told the Times of Malta he has big plans for all the different sports involved.

“I am labelled as ‘Waterpolo’ as I was a national team play and eventually the coach. Now that I am presiding oved the entire ASA, this involves all the sports,” he explained.

“The month and a half before the election, I met with all the clubs including swimming, artistic swimming and open water swimming. I will have technical committees in all departments. We have the GSSE (Games for Small States of Europe) coming up, I have met up with artistic swimming coaches and they too have competitions so we must focus on them.

“I’m looking to introduce a national team for open water swimming which will have a technical director who is well known among the swimming community – he will be announced when the time comes to confirm my teams.

“All in all, I think we move one step forward in our contribution – more professionality and more transparency.”

This year’s Enemed Cup participants are Exiles Welbee’s, Valletta Izibet, Birzebbugia Freeport, San Giljan JP Projects, Marsaskala, Sliema Frank Salt Real Estate, Sirens and Neptunes VideoSlots.

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