Karting in Malta – structural violence in sports?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 23:08

by Alfred A. Farrugia

It is unbelievable that 47 years after Malta’s Independence, a karting club – the Island Karting Club (IKC) – does not have a venue where to promote its national karting championship. British Forces karting clubs had the luxury of promoting racing at Hal Far, Safi and St. Patrick’s in the mid-1960’s. 46 years later the Malta Industrial Parks Ltd., withdraws the only temporary karting circuit at Hal Far – a dead-end road that leads to nowhere – used by the IKC for its events!

Karting in Malta did not start five years ago with the establishment of the Malta Motorsport Federation. Nor did it start 30 years ago with the formation of the Island Karting Club. Karting in Malta has its roots that go back almost 50 years ago when the British Navy introduced the sport at Hal Far in 1963.

Eventually, members of the British Navy, Air Force and Army began to build their own karts or purchase the chassis and engine and compete against themselves in one to three different locations at different periods of time. Originally, Maltese drivers could not take part because of insurance restrictions on British services premises, but this problem was resolved and a number of Maltese drivers began to race against the British servicemen. Some of the Maltese senior motorsport drivers of today had their baptism of fire in karting at Safi or Hal Far or the St. Patrick’s parade ground.

Last year, the Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Lawrence Gonzi inaugurated the new Exiles Waterpolo Club and the Gharghur Football Club, which received a new artificial turf surface. Within a couple of months kart racing at Hal Far was suspended!

The Exiles Waterpolo Club was the subject of a Parliamentary Question and Answer – 15572 – tabled in the House of Representatives on 15th November 2005, concerning the “upgrading” of a number of sports facilities. Karting and the IKC were also listed among the sports facilities that were promised to be “upgraded”, but after 6 years, as far as it is known, the current administration has done practically nothing to “upgrade” the site allocated to the IKC at Hal Far for a karting circuit.

http://www.pq.gov.mt/PQWeb.nsf/10491c99ee75af51c12568730034d5ee/c1256e7b003e1c2dc12570b9002c4937?OpenDocument

discrimination

This administration has allocated millions of euro for sports facilities over the years, but it has failed to invest in the infrastructure of the karting track at Hal Far in spite of the promise made 6 years ago. Ironically, the Malta Sports Council (KMS) includes karting in its SkolaSport programme at a commercial venue, and it also supports one of the leading kart drivers to participate in kart racing events abroad. Yet the KMS appears to have done nothing last September to extend the use of the temporary track at Hal Far, until a new circuit is developed.

Is it possible that it was just a coincidence that the Malta Industrial Parks Ltd. withdrew its permit to the IKC at the beginning of last September when the IKC was preparing to launch its national karting championship? The Malta Motorsport Federation suspended the IKC two years ago when a karting driver [not the Club] expressed his opinion that the Federation was after the control of the land allocated to the IKC. If that driver was mistaken then, developments seem to be pointing exactly in the direction of that opinion.

In the mid-1960’s there was no Parliamentary Secretariat for Sports and no Federation, but it appears that Maltese karting drivers had better luck with the British services than they have with current public corporations and other sports organizations. British Forces Karting clubs had better opportunities in the 1960’s than Maltese karting clubs have in the Republic of Malta in 2012!

In the last Budget, an allocation for 350,000 euro was earmarked for a karting track that could be used by other small vehicles, and for tuning and training purposes. It is reliably understood that part of the sum allocated is being used for a temporary solution. The continued use of the temporary track at Hal Far with the approval of Malta Industrial Parks Ltd., does not cost the government a single cent.

Investing in the IKC karting circuit at Hal Far as promised 6 years ago in the House of Representatives is the only credible signal that this administration is really committed to motor sport in Malta – karting being the very first step of the ladder in this discipline. It is not known who is actually giving the authorities the correct advice concerning motor sports in Malta. Is it possible that the complaints raised by the Hon. Dr. Franco Debono in other sectors, are also reflected in the field of sports?

If the Island Karting Club continues to be obstructed from promoting its national championship, or not assisted by those who are theoretically in a position to help it – and 6 months have already been wasted – would it be fair to conclude that karting in Malta is suffering from structural violence in sport?

 

 





2 Comments

  1. badger y says:

    Since we have been mentioned in this article we feel that it is only fair that readers read also our view on the matter. KMS does indeed offer a karting school as one of it’s activities, however this came about after we had shown iniciative 9 years ago and applied with the KMS to add karting. We submitted a program that was accepted and the school enjoys huge popularity, in fact it is now established as one of the top 3 activities with an average of 70 students attending every Saturday. From the 60 years that karting has been practiced in Malta, not one association before or since has ever applied to conduct these lessons. The Skola sport karting lessons are a positive step taken by KMS, so please lets not use this for other agendas. Over the years a large number of Skola Sport students have moved on to a higher level of motorsport and we are now seeing our ex pupils starting to establish themselves amongst the best in their chosen path.

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  2. Joe Galea says:

    sports in Malta is slowly dying. We always look at the government when in fact we also need to look at sponsors and other ways to get the money and build the circuits/venues ourselves. And thus government or any other (motoring) federation will not have any control over that venue….

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