National Judo Team still without a proper place to train

Friday, August 10, 2012, 17:30

At every Olympic Games, the International Judo Federation selects 20 Judoka from the 200 judo federations around the world who did not qualify through the official qualification, but who still got noticed during the Olympiad. This list included our Marcon Bezzina who was on an Olympic Solidarity Fund and also was on the IJF World Ranking List. The IOC refused to include her as Malta had an average of 6.5 athletes. This average is calculated by taking the number of athletes who participated in the last two Olympic Games. Malta had 7 athletes in Athens and 6 in Beijing; therefore the Malta did not qualify for an invitation. This decision was a hard blow for Marcon, the Judo Federation and the MOC, as this meant that since the Olympic Games of Seoul in 1988, a Judoka was not part of the Maltese Olympic Team.

The Federation was not disheartened and although Malta is going through a heat wave, National Team Pool Training has continued under the leadership of the Sports Director Alex Bezzina. Daily gym and Judo training continues with sessions at Tal Qroqq Fitness Centre and at the Sargent’s Mess in Pembroke. The weights sessions in the air-conditioned National Swimming pool complex are no problem, but the training at Pembroke is another matter.

The Judo Federation recently acquired title from KMS to the two buildings where judo has always been practiced since the 41 Commando Group left it in 1975. The Federation and the Foundation made a lot of changes inside to provide better training conditions. The place was vandalised some years ago when it was burned and a year ago part of the roof caved in when part of a chimney on top of the Enemalta substation fell on the roof. All these mishaps did not discourage the Judo Community. They fixed it and continued. But now the inadequacy of the place is more obvious. Judo has become faster and stronger and the 70 square meters are no longer appropriate to train at international level. Anybody who stops by the Sargent’s Mess will be surprised how Judo managed to obtain such good results in such primitive conditions.

A project for an International Judo Centre prepared in the year 2000 is on hold pending the White Rocks Sport project. Whatever happens in that project does not solve the immediate requirements of the sport so the Malta Judo foundation embarked on a project which should provide adequate facilities to house the Malta Judo Academy and the ever increasing new young judoka and the Andrew Bertie Sport Science Institute recently launched. This Centre should also have place for the National Team Pool until the White Rocks Project becomes operable. Discussions with the sport authorities were encouraging and it is hoped that after more than 40 years in existence the sport of Judo will not remain the only Olympic Sport without appropriate facilities.


  1. KBorg says:

    ‘the only Olympic Sport without appropriate facilities’- no disrespect to Judo but who are we kidding? very few associations in Malta have adequate facilities. Also if the attitude taken is to await for wild card to participate at Olympics, then you guys have it all wrong. Qualifying should be the primary aim. If William Chetcuti managed I cannot see why a judoka cannot?


    Matthew Azzopardi Reply:

    while I agree with you that qualifying should be the primary aim, you are making a huge mistake in comparing judo to shooting. or for that matter shooting to any physical sport. Shooting is a ‘sport’ where the final personal result is dependent on you. You hit 10 clays or 100 clays is dependent on your ability, not your opponent’s abilty, gameplan or dirty tactics.

    William Chetcuti, whom I admire and hopes one day can deliver Olympic glory,while very talented is not as hard pressed as someone who trains Judo, or Boxing or Wrestling or Taekwondo. In those sports, you have to compete straight up hand to hand, eye to eye with someone who has way more time to train than you, that has better coaches, better nutritionists and as the article implies better facilities. Also, Malta has a lack of competitive experience against these larger countries that compete at least 2 to 3 times a month. This year, in Malta only 1 judo competition has been organised. That though is a different debate, one that the local judo federation is at fault for not giving opportunities abroad to different people who might be less talented but work hard nontheless, who will never hope to advance to a certain level as they are barely considered to be worth much to the organization except to be sparring fodder to be tossed around by the big boys and girls.

    But if you cannot see why a judoka cannot qualify, and William Chetcuti can, albeit from being alone in his shooting box with his earguards on with nobody to hinder him from his performance but his own nerviousness, in a sport that requires no fitness or physicality, in a sport that PEDs will not aid your performance, then you my friend need to learn a good deal about certain sports to make that comment


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