Clifton Grima admits that there is a growing need of putting sport as an integral part of our education system if we are to inject a sporting culture in Malta.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport was speaking during the launch of the SportMalta Awards Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali which this year are celebrating 60 years from their foundation.

Dr Grima said that before we start talking about changing the mindset of how we look at sport in Malta, it is imperative that we change the way how things are being done.

“Before we can start talking about how we can put sport as the central cog of our children’s lives we need to make a number of changes to how things are being run. I believe that we need to challenge our current education system.

“Unless sport is established as an integral part of our national curriculum there is no way that something will change. We need to be brave and take the necessary decisions in reaching this objective.

“This is a clear message to SportMalta to be more pro-active in how we portray our vision on what needs to be changed to groom a sporting culture.”

Dr Grima labelled the SportMalta Awards as a flagship event  and provides a perfect opportunity to honour the feats achieved by our athletes throughout the year that have put the country on the sporting map.

“Our athletes work hard throughout the year away from the spotlight and their efforts are not always much appreciated in our country,” the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport said.“These awards are a perfect way of providing a positive stimulus to our sportsmen to train harder and hopefully get even better results in the near future.”

Sandro Micallef, the president of the Għaqda Ġurnalisti Sport, who are the co-organisers of the event alongside SportMalta, said that this year’s edition holds special significance for his organisation.

“The 2020 awards are an historic event for us as not only we are holding the 60th edition of the Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali but added to that our organisation is celebrating the 50th anniversary from its foundation,” Micallef said. “I would like to thank all the associations who have co-operated with us and sent their nominations for this year’s contest.

“This year we have 33 nominations for seven categories and it’s up to the sports journalists now to vote who deserves to proceed to the final in a new electronic system.”

The initial voting procedure will come to a close on February 7 with the names of the finalists to be announced a week before the gala ceremony which will be held at Hilton Malta on February 22.

Micallef announced that for this year’s edition two-high profile guests have been confirmed.

Hungarian swimming champion Agnes Kovacs, winner of the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics, and Gianni Merlo, president of the AIPS, have confirmed their presence for the gala night.

Mark Cutajar, the SportMalta CEO, said that in the last years both his organisation and the Għaqda Ġurnalisti Sport have recognised their roles and has no doubt that together they will host another successful event.

“Again this year we will have seven categories who will reward the best-performing athletes and all the pressure is on our sports journalists to decide who deserves most to be rewarded for his/her achievements,” Cutajar said.

“On our part, we are doing everything possible to provide a high-quality show and I have no doubt that it will be another memorable occasion for our sporting family.”