Maltese para athletes can look forward to a brighter and more secure future with the establishment of the Malta Paralympic Committee (the “MPC”) and the Malta Paralympic Athletes’ Council. Entrusted with the development of para sports for athletes with physical impairments, the MPC will be operating within the auspices of the International Paralympic Committee and is analogous in structure to the Maltese Olympic Committee. Its immediate target is to ensure that Malta sends a strong team of para athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and to create a sustainable and professional support framework so that athletes with physical impairments can practice and compete in various sports at both national and international level.
The first elected Executive Committee of the Malta Paralympic Committee, composed of Prof. Joseph N. Grima (President), Dr. Julian Bajada (Secretary General), Mr. Nello Calleja (Treasurer), Ms. Vladyslava Kravchenko (Athletes’ Representative), and the following executive members, Mr. Simon Zammit, Mr. George Vella, Mr. Joseph Bajada and Mrs. Carmen Borg, was unanimously approved by all the Maltese sports national associations present at the inaugural AGM held last Friday 6th July 2018, and includes athletes, coaches, referees, parents, sports enthusiasts and persons with experience in sports administration. In a jubilant tone, the newly elected Secretary General, Dr. Julian Bajada (a para athlete and a law graduate from the University of Malta and the University of Cambridge) said that “this is a historic moment for Paralympic Sports in Malta – we have a long way to go, but we are an ambitious team of dedicated individuals who want to make a tangible difference in the lives of our Para Athletes.” Born with a number of physical impairments and having undergone a series of major operations, Julian stressed the benefits of sports, noting that “there are well over 15,000 individuals who are registered as having physical impairments in Malta – we want to change their lives through the power of Para Sports. I only know of no more than a handful of Para Athletes – this is simply not on and we have a collective responsibility to turn the tide.”
Echoing these sentiments, the newly elected President, Professor Joseph N. Grima, emphatically underscored the Executive Committee’s desire to leave a mark on Paralympic Sports in Malta, saying that, “today marks the very first step in a long journey that will show us all that athletes with physical impairments know no limits”. Grima went on to state that, “we are committed to work with National Associations, para-athletes and their coaches to show that Para Sports is back on the agenda, for good. We must move from inclusion on paper to inclusion in action. At the end of the day, this will be the yardstick by which we would like you to measure our success.”
Ms. Vladyslava Kravchenko, an accountant by profession and Malta’s first female para swimmer who represented Malta at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, was also approved as the Chairperson of the first Malta Paralympic Athletes’ Council and will sit as the Athletes’ Representative in the Executive Committee. She remarked that, “athlete representation at decision making levels is essential for ensuring that athletes are put at the heart of sport.”
The AGM was followed by the official launch of the MPC, which saw various stakeholders addressing those present, including: Ms. Elissavet Abdelnour (representing the International Paralympic Committee), Mr. Oliver Scicluna (Chairperson of the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability, CRPD), the Hon Ing. Ryan Callus (Opposition Spokesperson for Youth and Sport), and the Hon. Dr. Clifton Grima (Parliamentary Secretary for Youths, Sports and Voluntary Organisations). The newly elected Malta Paralympic Committee members gratefully acknowledged and thanked the visionaries who made this initiative possible, in particular, CRPD, Sport Malta, the members of the Ad-Hoc Committee, and the various national sports associations and federations who will be at the centre of the MPC’s work. The MPC also thanked Mr. Nathan Farrugia who coordinated Malta’s Paralympic set-up before this present structure was formally established. The elected executive members reiterated that they are adamant to work tirelessly for the benefit of the thousands of individuals with physical impairments and to establish an open and collaborative relationship with all stakeholders who share their vision of full inclusion in sports. The MPC may be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org