The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Lm400,000 Project to revive the game at Birzebbuga

Malta Independent Thursday, 21 June 2007, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

A project which is expected to cost around Lm400,000 is being launched in an effort to revive the game of waterpolo which was once very popular in this southern village.

Birzebbuga have not taken part in ASA competitions in the past 10 seasons or so, but the committee remained functioning and working hard towards resurrecting the club. This year it will, once again organise a summer club for local youths in the hope of encouraging more of the locality’s children to look at swimming as a source of pleasure and good health. Whenever such activity was organised in the past, it has always been a big hit. The club will also be looking at potential talent to form a nursery and start nurturing talent for a team that will eventually challenge for the top honours.

Club president George Farrugia said the project will consist of a complete conversion of the present premises and pool into a state-of-the-art clubhouse and fresh water pool which will serve the waterpolo teams and general swimming training. “The pool will be shortened from the present length to standard waterpolo size, similar to that existing at Neptunes in Balluta Bay,” he said.

Farrugia added that the whole area where the existing pool lies, will be reclaimed. He said: “The pool will be built above sea level with the difference that the existing walls surrounding the present pool will be dismantled, thus providing an open view of the picturesque Birzebbuga Bay to those enjoying the facilities.”

The locality has enjoyed a great transformation during the past 15 years thanks to the hard work of the local council and contribution by the central government. The refurbishment of the waterpolo facilities will be complimentary to what has been done so far and will remove, once and for all, the eyesore and danger that is currently called “the pitch”.

Apart from the pool, the club house is to include a board room, offices, showers, locker rooms and every facility one would expect to have. The club house will be complimented with a 100-seat snack bar and a small gymnasium.

The club facilities, as always, will be available to other clubs in the locality, free of charge, except perhaps for minor costs sharing. The club already cooperates with the local fishing club and are discussing possible similar cooperation also with other local clubs.

Farrugia added: “It will be open to all, but members will obviously enjoy privileges not available to non-members. For example, they will have free use of the fresh water pool, club showers and locker rooms. For facilities offered by third parties within the premises, members will also enjoy substantial discounts. The new club will be a great place to enjoy a relaxing day, meeting friends and enjoy oneself in complete comfort and safety.

“To ensure that membership is not restrictive, membership fees will be minimal. The club will however, continue to review membership criteria to ensure discipline and high standard of behaviour within the club facilities.

“We want to ensure that apart from respecting the club itself, members show respect towards each other” Mr Farrugia emphasised.

A private entrepreneur has reached agreement with the club to finance the construction of the new premises and pool at a cost of around Lm400,000. The Birzebbuga club committee, however, will remain the proprietors of the whole project and in complete control, both during the refurbishment stage as well as afterwards. The whole project is expected to take 28 months to be completed.

Mr John Cutajar, club secretary, added that the project will be financed totally by the private sector. “We managed to do this through the utilization of the area’s great commercial potential. Once completed, the project will be a focal meeting place for the locality generating activity all the year round,” he said.

The PRO of the club, Victor Battistino, said the club committee wanted to re-create the enthusiasm which reigned in the 1970s and 1980s. Speaking close to the existing pool, he explained: “As you can see, no one swims in the pool today. The sea water drainage system does not function any longer. To hold the nursery session and some swimming meetings for the youngsters, we have to make use of the open sea. Last year we could not even do this since there was the jelly fish invasion and the water was not safe.

“The permit for the new premises and pool was issued by Mepa in 2004. Both the Council for Maltese Sport and the ASA have been kept informed of what we are doing. The Local Council is also very much in favour of the project and were involved from a very early stage in the project’s design. They are all appreciative that this project will go a long way towards reviving water sport in this area and provide an additional opportunity to the locality’s youth to once again practise the sport that had brought the locality so much pleasure and honours. The locality is already endowed with other good sports facilities including a sailing club, a number of football clubs with nursery and a regatta club. The waterpolo club will enhance the sporting credentials of the locality.

“If the ASA decides to stage the third division next year, Birzebbuga will again start taking part in competitive waterpolo. We already have the players capable of playing in such a division. For the higher divisions, we still have to work a lot harder. However, the club has already appointed Charles Borg as team manager. Mr Borg, together with his sub-committee is entrusted with building the club’s team. Their first project is the organisation of this year’s summer club, plans for which have already been finalised. A circular will be sent in the coming days to all locality residents inviting children to participate. Hopefully we can locate future waterpolo stars amongst these youths,” Mr Battistino concluded.

Finally, Mr Farrugia said the club has around 130 members at present. Since the project was launched over one month ago, the committee has received numerous calls from others wishing to enrol and provide support.

The new committee is currently reviewing its membership criteria and will start enrolling new members in the coming months. Any one interested to know more is invited to contact the club president at [email protected] or the PRO at [email protected]

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