The comedy at the national pool

Thursday, June 3, 2010, 12:37

All those present at the national pool at Tal Qroqq last Saturday afternoon definitely got good value for their money. Besides the hot duel between Sliema and Neptunes who were both vying for the winter league title, the public also witnessed a series of happenings that left many dumbstruck to say the least.

There’s a hole in the net

Yes! The net of one of goal posts was torn for the final of the winter league. This gave rise to a controversy in a match that could have easily done without this extra hassle. On two of the occasions when Neptunes scored, the Neptunes players celebrated, but the ball ended up well behind the goal post. The Neptunes fans saw where the ball ended up and were disappointed that their players “missed” two easy goals. But the referee, on both occasions, signaled that it was indeed a goal! The Sliema faithful, rightly so, started protesting that the ball, on both occasions, was out and therefore the goals should have been annulled.

But it transpired that Sliema goalie R. Coleiro noticed a hole in the net. The national pool staff proceeded to give a set of cable ties to the reserve Sliema goalkeeper A. Bianchi, who jumped in the pool and together with his team mate repaired the net. What a hilarious and embarrassing sight! The goalpost nets should be inspected before every match just like in football, or is this too much of a hassle to carry out?

Team benches: now you see them, now you don’t!

Another ridiculous incident occurred in the fourth session, with Sliema having the lead, and many present expecting the trophy to head to the Sliema pitch within minutes. Once again the national pool staff took centre stage! In fact when the teams changed ends between the 3rd and 4th session, the personnel on duty starting putting in the team benches which they assumed would not be required any more as the game would be won in 4 sessions.

After all it was already 5:45pm on a Saturday afternoon and they must have already started thinking about getting home asap. But Neptunes forced extra time with 3.4 seconds on the clock and the teams had to change ends once again, but this time they had no benches to sit on! After some light protests by the players, the pool staff carried the benches from one side of the pool to the other so that the teams could be seated.

Yet another embarrassing and unbelievable sight!


The two referees in the Sliema v Neptunes game did not have the best of performances, with a number of incidents raising the brows of both sets of supporters, but also those of the journalists present, with some of them not mincing their words in their commentary.

For example on one occasion, when Sliema scored, the ball did not completely go over the imaginary goal line, and in fact the goal judge who was seated exactly in line with the Neptunes goal post did not raise his hand to signal the goal. But referee Dalli, from a not so advantageous position, saw otherwise and over-ruled his colleague to grant the goal to Sliema, giving rise to protests.

Water polo has the luxury, unlike other sports like football, of having a “linesman” permanently watching the goal line. So why is it that a referee insists on over-ruling a person who is always positioned better than himself?

One word of advice to local fans: The more you yell and insult a referee who is already having a bad day, the bigger the possibility that calls will not come your team’s way! It’s understandable and acceptable that one shouts and complains for a dubious referee’s call, but yelling insults and swearing, definitely don’t aid the team’s cause and neither put local water polo in a good light, especially with all the kids that were in attendance.

…and to conclude

The ASA committee needs to seriously look at what happened last weekend and work to improve the situation. But one needs to ask:
- Who is responsible for the equipment (nets, benches, etc) used during our water polo leagues? Is it the ASA or the KMS?
- Was the ASA at fault for what happened last Saturday?
- As for the referees, why wasn’t a foreign referee brought over for such a hot encounter?


  1. Manuel Brincat says:

    @ steve and Martin Calleja

    I think that critiscism is welcome in this case, perhaps the ASA get their act together. We cannot go on leaving these things happen and never being told the real story about the various sports in mALTA.

    Unfortunately we only get the reports from the press releases that the associations send ot the reports by journalists who don’t want to get any flak form the associations. Reading the newspapers it seems like local sport is doing really well and there are no problems!! halluna !

    this article is a refreshing change to the status quo that exists in local sport.


    Martin Calleja Reply:

    Criticism is good when it is constructive..
    The way the refs were criticised is damaging if you ask me. This article makes you think that Maltese referees are useless (when they are not) and it is like the italian refs are gods (WHICH IS DEFINATLEY NOT THE CASE.)

    The facilites at the pool ar rubbish and everyone who is there everyday knows it better than everyone. But the benches are jsut a funny coincidence, and it could be the case that the net tore during the match.

    And dont use the only in malta rubbish, cause we have seen torn nets even in the biggest league in europe.


  2. steve says:

    jien naqbel ma certu punti li hemm bzonn jinbidlu bhala bankijiet, forsi jicekja xibka pero bhala persuna li nkun hemm kuljum ghax namel parti min club pero dawk haddiema jamlu sagrificji ukol meta jkun hemm loghob ghax fis-sajf iridu jarmaw ghax-xemx u ahna li ahna parti mil-waterpolo iridu min jipromovi sport mhux jamel li jamel hsara li sport li tant inhobbu vera forsi referes kellhom loghba hazina imma referes hawm minhom tajbin kritika kienet harxa wisq ftakru li referes li jsehh taht ma tantx jarawh


  3. Martin Calleja says:

    Unfortunatley these are the conditions us waterpolo players have to train and play. Those benches have been there probably since 1995.

    However I think this report is too critical. And too damaging. WIth regards to the referees the Italian refs never cme for the winter league. However what happened to encouraging the maltese???? is 1 bad game all it takes to slam Maltese ppl?????


  4. Bernard Vassallo says:

    One, both in the report and the comment above, has to be careful and know the facts before resorting to commenting or referring to anybody as ‘national pool staff’.

    I am not in any way stating that KMS employed pool staff are perfect as nobody is but kindly note that during ASA matches, all waterpolo related equipment is taken care of by ASA employed staff and not KMS national pool staff. The photos also depict this clearly.

    Thus any reference to national pool staff is out of context.


    Frederick G Reply:

    Thank you for the clarification and I take my first comment back.
    So in this case it’s SHAME on the ASA for the lack of professionalism in running the competition.

    ASA take note: make sure that all equipment is in good working order before each match and also ensure that no funny things (e.g. removal benches) happen before a match is over!

    I hope that lessons have been learnt and thank you to sportinmalta for bringing these stories to light.


    Alan Reply:

    I do not know whether it is the ASA or KMS that is responsible for the maintenance of the goal posts and nets. However, I imagine that it is the KMS that is responsible for the timing equipment. Nobody seems to have reported that the horn that announces the end of sessions, etc has been out of order for the past few months. And while on the subject I must mention the dingy state of the toilets and showers near the National Pool’s gym. I suggest to Mr. Vassallo that he pays them a visit.


  5. Gilju says:

    I wonder why did no reporter mentioned ‘il-gol fantazma’ that was awarded to Sliema by referee Dalli? (You have mentioned it now in above comments). Unfortunately, I think that this was a rare but decisive blemish in Mr Dalli’s control on Sunday.

    As for Mr Angileri’s control I think the occasion was too much for him. A decision that struck me was when Sliema’s John Soler pretended to being pulled down from his left hand by Steve Camilleri and at the same time with the pointer of his right hand was signalling to the referee that he was being fouled. Angileri fell for that and immediately sent off S. Camilleri!!

    And what about the ‘legitimate looking goal’ for Neptunes that was mysteriously disallowed?

    Waterpolo is indeed a dirty game and the champions at gamesmanship always triumph.

    As for the remark by Frederick G above, I too agree with him about Maltese referees controlling matches abroad. Yes, some of them do not even qualify to control matches locally but somehow they are assigned top class games. Farcical!

    How interesting it would be were Mr Sandro Micallef or some ‘qualified’ person to delve deeply into this subject on this site.


  6. Frederick G says:

    Those workers are employed by the KMS and were really a farce….reminded me of Fawlty Towers! What a mentality…where is the respect for sport???

    And re the referees I cannot understand how these people manage to ref abroad …it’s beyond me.


Leave a comment