The Malta Independent 1 October 2023, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: May the best win, and may the impact last

Tuesday, 30 May 2023, 09:37 Last update: about 5 months ago

Yesterday saw the opening ceremony of the Games of the Small States of Europe which is being held in Malta: a prestigious sporting event bringing together the smallest nations in Europe – Malta, Iceland, Cyprus, Montenegro, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and San Marino – together to compete against each other.

For the first time in 20 years, Malta is playing host to the Games with 10 sporting disciplines – Athletics, Basketball, Judo, Rugby, Sailing, Shooting, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, and Tennis – being played out across a sporting bonanza which will take place over the course of this week.

The commitment to attract the Games to Malta must be commended: the event has brought a much-needed focus to these sports – many of which can be considered to be quite ‘niche’ when compared to the more followed football and waterpolo – both in terms of the public attention that they are gaining, and in terms of the financial investment which associations have received.

The investment committed to infrastructural improvements for the Games is worthy of commendation, but this does come with a caveat however.

Sadly four venues were not completed in time – the Gozo Aquatic Centre, the Cottonera indoor swimming complex, the new Pembroke Tennis centre and a new squash and weightlighting complex in Marsa. 

It is a pity that these venues were not completed, and that they have all also gone over budget, as they would have surely added to the spectacle of the Games and been integral for the preparation in the run-up.

It will also be worth looking into exactly why these venues were delayed and why they went over budget, so that lessons can be learnt for future projects and so that the people can be sure that their money has been spent correctly.

Hopefully works on these venues continue regardless, and they can be enjoyed by their respective sports in order to improve the stature of their games in the many years to come.

The ‘many years to come’ in fact is what we should be looking for as an indirect impact of these Games.  In the immediate, it will be great to see Maltese athletes celebrate with as many medals as possible – but in the long-term, hopefully the coverage that the Games will bring will inspire a new generation of athletes to delve into these sports.

Ultimately that has to be the end goal:  the development of a new generation of athletes and the development of some of Malta’s less followed – but in actual fact perhaps more successful – sports so that they can push on towards more successes.

Hopefully associations will be able to capitalise on the public attention which they receive throughout the Games.  On the government’s part, hopefully their investment in these – and other – sports continues at grassroot levels so that more and more people – adults and children alike – can be drawn towards them.

In the meantime, however, let the Games begin and may the best man and woman win.

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