Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A national swimming pool in Gozo?

The Hon. Clyde Puli, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport addresses a press conference organised by the Aquatic Sports Association.

As expected, the Aquatic Sports needs in Gozo were again dismissed - or else not reported through the government press statements.

I remember that when we proposed that the state should invest much more in Aquatic sports in Gozo -even more specifically a National Swimming Pool - the GonziPN also promised such an initiative during one of his pre-election meetings in Nadur.

I once wrote this in the press:

I would like to draw attention to the fact that part of the public coastal area near Otters Water Polo Club in Marsalforn was taken away from the public through a parliamentary deed in 2005. Now a pending application awaiting MEPA’s approval to “construct a sea water pool, for water polo and swimming purposes, pool to occupy part of existing Otters Club House and adjacent land, and replanning of part of existing ramp next to St Mary’s Street, Marsalforn” is being processed.

While I would like to point out that Alternattiva Demokratika has long been insisting that the government should invest in aquatic sports in Gozo, I question the need for this limited proposal. Why should the Otters Club have to undergo such hassle to get a semi-decent pool? Why should historic salt pans be threatened and why should the public give up yet another piece of coastline? All this for only a few months just in case of possibly jellyfish-infested waters.

Was a national swimming pool in Gozo not part of the Nationalist Party’s manifesto in 1991? We are still waiting 17 years later and the Labour Party ignores such a proposal even in its current plan for Gozo. Green Members of Parliament will urge cross party co-operation to safeguard the interests of all Gozitans and Gozo’s specific needs. We will get the government to invest in sports in Gozo rather than speculating on public land.

Two national swimming pools already exist in Malta; hence we believe that Gozitans deserve, by right, a national pool in Gozo. In its electoral manifesto for Gozo, Alternattiva Demokratika is proposing that a national heated pool to be used all year round and aquatic sports facility would form part of the existing sports complex in Victoria where adjacent land is available, or in other locations such as the abandoned Hondoq ir-Rummien distillation plant which could be rehabilitated and transformed into an indoor solar power heated pool for all citizens. EU funds could be tapped to subsidise a public aquatic sports facility for Gozo.

Given the socio-educational advantages of aquatic sports in Gozo, I sincerely hope that in the-not-too-distant future the sport finds itself on the national agenda and not used as a favourite subject for lip-servicing exercises that seem to have become something of a national pastime. Stop appropriating further public land and give Gozitans what is theirs by right. We are fed up of empty promises. Swim with AD and leave the old political system to sink.

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