“Volunteers should be recognized for their work, whilst the government does its utmost to provide them with the necessary skills that are recognized and certified” said Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport during the official opening of the seminar Engaging Skillful Volunteers. The seminar marks the opening of the series of events related to sports for the Maltese Presidency of the European Union.

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The Parliamentary Secretary stated that although a lot of progress has been made in this sector we are still a long way in reaching our goal of having full-timers working with sports associations. He insisted that such courses are thus very important in giving the opportunity to our volunteers to be acknowledged for their work. He mentioned that this seminar precedes the HR Expert Group meeting to be hosted by Malta the following day. The experts forming part of this group are discussing important themes such as sport diplomacy, dual careers and the voluntary sector.

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The one day seminar tackled a number of issues related to volunteering in sport such as good governance and the role of the volunteer. There were also a number of workshops during which participants could learn more about good practices that already exist in other countries and topics such as the role of the parents as volunteers, volunteering that leads to a career in sports and volunteering during mega events.

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During his speech Mark Cutajar, Director General of Sports and the Chief Executive of SportMalta said that it is an honour for SportMalta to be entrusted by the Ministry of Education to organize all the work related to sports in relation to the Presidency. Social inclusion and volunteering are Malta’s priorities for the Presidency and so this seminar represents the first initiative in a wide and long process leading to conclusions at the end of the term. Mr. Cutajar mentioned also the authoring of Sports Work Plan of the European Union entrusted to SportMalta that presents numerous challenges as it needs to bring together the ideas of the 28 member states. Moreover he said that March will certainly be an eventful month as Malta will host the European Sports Forum, The European Youth Sport Forum and the Directors’ General Meeting amongst other activities.

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The seminar was attended by over a hundred participants hailing from local sport associations, SportMalta employees and foreign guests. Professor Thierry Zintz from the University of Louvain in Belgium and Dr. Geoff Nichols form the University of Sheffield, UK were amongst the speakers. Representatives for the European Commission and the Slovak Presidency were also in attendance.

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The official SportMalta website dedicated to the work related to the Presidency was officially launched during the seminar. The website also gives access to important documents to be used during the meetings that will be organized in Malta.

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“Moving a nation through the promotion and development of sport for a healthy, inclusive and successful Malta.”