Earlier this morning, The Yuppie reported that plans for revamping University’s sports ground were approved by the Planning Authority, pending the provision of the parking spaces that will be lost with the project. It’s a project that is long overdue and which was welcomed with open arms by the Malta University Sports Club in a statement from its President Antoine Attard as published by this site.
The University of Malta Futsal Team meanwhile also welcomed the news of the project, remembering back to the shocking state that they had found the area in when hosting athletic trial sessions for interested players in the summer of 2016. Such was the shock that the team had issued a press release calling on the University Administration and the Government to start planning a project to renovate the area. It is with this in mind that, in comments to this site, they “wholeheartedly welcome” the news of the planned rejuvenation of the area.
We must note with disappointment that although the plans set in motion are very positive steps forward, so far Sports’ Student Societies like ours have not been consulted on the matter, and much is yet to be clarified on who the ultimate beneficiaries of this project shall be. To put things into perspective, the UM Futsal Team has been competing in the official national Maltese Futsal competitions since 2014, and although we have repeatedly petitioned and have met a large number of stakeholders involved in the remit of Sport, we have been turned down time and time again whenever we have tried to book a slot at the University of Malta Indoor Pavillion in Tal-Qroqq (despite us willing to pay commercial rates for the sessions as any other private organisation). After 3 years of trying to contact and set-up meetings with both the University of Malta administration and representatives of SportMalta, in the summer of 2017, we finally had a breakthrough with formal meetings held with the above mentioned stakeholders.
When we communicated the problems we must face when having to book pavilions all over Malta (from Cottonera to Dingli) at exorbitant rates, we were repeatedly told that the Indoor Sports Hall at Tal-Qroqq is unavailable, since the previous Rectorship had given the right of use to SportMalta indefinitely in the afternoons and evenings, and thus the University of Malta administration cannot help us in this regard. SportMalta on the other hand could not help us either since they have long-standing contractual obligations with multiple Associations who rent the premises for competitive matches and training sessions all year round. To summarize, the only Student Team representing the University of Malta at a national level cannot train on Campus since the University had previously “outsourced” the right to use its own facilities to a Government agency (which cannot legally and ethically differentiate between a Student-run team and any other sports entity in Malta).
Will the facilities set to be renovated follow the same path? Will the University of Malta’s administration be running the facilities or will SportMalta take hold of them after a while and bar entry to students who wish to strike a balance between the rigors of full time study and their passion for Sport? What is the medium to long term plan for this complex? Will the University administration seek to follow-up its infrastructural investments with some kind of financial assistance to Senate-recognized Sport organizations such as ours which have been working hard to put UM on the sporting map in recent years?