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Malta has an important role to play for World Aquatics, says governing body president – SportsDesk


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World Aquatics president Husain Al-Musallam has praised Malta’s contribution to the sport’s development and made it clear that the Mediterranean country is set to play an important role in the coming years.

The Aquatic Sports Association of Malta has been at the centre of attention in the aquatic sport community not only in Europe but also around the world after organising three high-profile events in the space of a few weeks.

The ASA staged for the first time the LEN Champions League Final Four tournament, the World Aquatics U-16 Men’s Championship as well as the European Junior Artistic Swimming Championships.

Al-Musallam was in Malta earlier this week to experience at first hand the U-16 waterpolo championship and the Kuwaiti official was left impressed with the high level of organisation reached by the Maltese governing body.

“I am very happy to be here in Malta for the World Aquatics U-16 Championship,” Al-Musallam told the Times of Malta.

“The most important aspect of this competition is that for the first time, we have 32 teams from five different continents which is crucial for the development of the sport of waterpolo.

“I am very pleased that we have chosen Malta to host this tournament as it has all the ingredients to stage a high-level tournament, with two swimming pools and the athletes are enjoying themselves in such a beautiful country.

“We had over 1,000 athletes competing in such great facilities and the sport was at the centre of society.”

The World Aquatics president said that tournaments like the U-16 waterpolo championship were at the heart of his agenda that is fully focused on the development of all aquatic sport.

“I want to see aquatic sport around the world grow,” Al-Musallam said.

“The most important thing that we should pay attention to is the development of aquatic sport at grass root level and that is why the U-16 waterpolo championships are so important.

“The aquatics community is split into three factions. There are the highly developed countries like USA, China, Japan and Europe. Then you have those nations that have middle technical standards and then you have countries in Africa, Oceania and a number of Asian countries who are still at a very premature developing stage.

“In this last group of countries, aquatic sport is not part of their daily practice and we at the World Aquatics are giving a lot of importance to step up the development process in these countries in Africa, South America, and Oceania.

“What we did was to reduce the administrative costs and used those funds to create tournaments like the U-16 Championships that provide competitive experience to these countries. Having nations like Mexico and Zimbabwe here is very important point for me.”

Dynamic partner

Al-Musallam said that Malta, represented by the ASA, was a very dynamic partner for the world aquatics and had no doubt that more international events will be held on our islands.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there will be more international events staged in Malta, regardless being waterpolo, swimming, open water or artistic swimming,” the World Aquatics president said.

“In the past we always staged events in the US, the Middle East like Dubai, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia but Malta has turned out to be a special place.

“This country is surrounded by water and you don’t need to build big arenas to hold competitions in our sport. You have natural surroundings and very good venues already. We used the facilities here to attract more people and have a positive impact on society.

“I was pleased to see many families coming to the pool to support the players and that is very important not only to boost the country’s sports tourism but also to inspire future athletes. I am sure many of the countries who came to Malta will be back for training camps in near future as it’s an ideal place.

“The ASA is a very dynamic organisation and they spend a lot of effort to develop aquatic sport. It is our duty as World Aquatics to help the Maltese association and the government who are committed in ensuring our different disciplines grow.”

The World Aquatics president reserved words of praise for ASA president Karl Izzo, who he describes as a man of great vision.

“I only got to know Karl a couple of years ago but it didn’t take much for us to understand each other,” Al-Musallam said.

“One common thing that we have is that both of us are former athletes. I am a former swimmer and he is an ex-waterpolo player.

“Had I didn’t have the background of an athlete or a sports administrator I wouldn’t be able to understand what Karl is doing here.

“Since he was elected as president he has worked hard to see all aquatic sport disciplines improve and I believe that he has done a remarkable job.

“One just has to look at how much the Malta U-16 team has improved in the last two years. They managed to finish 17th in the world championships and there is more potential to be developed.

“The most important thing is that Malta continues to invest in grassroots as they represent the future of the sport.”

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