7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity
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In 2019 Malta launched a new National Strategy for Sport and Physical Activity in Malta. The document is entitled: Aiming Higher, is a cross-sectoral strategy dependent on the support, hard work and accountability of all stakeholders towards building the foundations of sport, increasing physical activity, whilst implementing new structures and support incentives. Aiming Higher comprises objectives and actions which integrate the experiences, ambitions and realities of all stakeholders. The strategy recognizes the value of sport and physical activity towards a healthier, inclusive, economically-productive, ecologically educated and balanced society. It is set up on 5 core values namely to be determined in attitude in an understanding that everyone is intrinsically motivated to achieve; to be integrated in the approach where everyone works together for the benefit of all; to be inclusive in practice and ensure that everyone has the same opportunities for participation; to be operationally accountable and everyone shoulders responsibility for proposed projects and actions; and be innovative allowing everyone to employ advanced systems to achieve growth. The document identifies five recurrent strategic themes which emerged following widespread consultation with the sporting community and other stakeholders:
- Building a more active and healthy nation
- Stimulating a new sporting culture
- Enhancing the competence of all stakeholders
- Transforming Malta into a centre of sporting excellence
- Achieve competitive success
In implementing the above the strategy focuses on seven pillars: High Performance, Integrity, Gozo, Industry, Facilities, Participation and Quality of Life and Education. Aiming Higher is a comprehensive strategy geared towards achieving a paradigm shift in the way we approach sport and physical activity. The strategy is nationwide and focuses on the whole population it will be coordinated by SportMalta under the remit of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Sport, Recreation and Voluntary Organisations
The main programme promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people in Malta is developed, coordinated and managed by SportMalta.
#OnTheMove offers a dynamic programme divided into 3 modules running annually from October to May. One of these modules the Performance module is open to young people up to 16 years. Activities for these modules are mainly held on Saturday mornings and adults are also invited to support their children and join in the fun by taking part in the adult activity class held concurrently with the children’s activity.
The Performance module strives towards improving standards once youngsters have undergone (ideally) both stages and are in a position to choose their sport discipline. #OnTheMove has been giving this opportunity to youngsters between the 11 to 16 age group, however, this is now being extended to children from 9 years of age who have undergone the foundation and participation programmes and now would like the option to choose a particular sport with the desired outcome being that of retaining and attracting more children at this age band (9 to 10 years old). Youngsters can choose a sport from an extensive list and learn the skills, tactics and rules of that sport. Sport Associations and Clubs partner with SportMalta in the provision of training for most of the sports. The Performance module different sport disciplines where youngsters learn the skills, tactics and rules of the respective sport. Disciplines include: Athletics, Badminton, Ballet, Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Bowling, Dance, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Hip-Hop, Karting, Rugby, Sailing, Squash, Swimming, Table-Tennis, Tennis, Traditional Karate and Volleyball
Swimming sessions are also available. Lesson objectives are specifically related to the age and ability of the participants. For beginners, these include increasing confidence in water, learning how to float without floatation devices, and enjoy water safely. More advanced courses aimed at teaching and improving the stroke technique for each of the four strokes are also being planned.
The Adult Programme is designed to encourage those of 17 years and over to take up physical activity at least once weekly. Our programme is flexible enough to embrace all abilities, from the very beginner to the most veteran and trained athlete. This module offers a choice of fitness activities for adults in all the different venues catering for all levels of fitness and ability. Activities include Aerobics, Aqua Aerobics, Dance Fitness, Physical Fitness, Swimming, Zumba and for the first time a Programme of different sport and team games.
#OnTheMove (Summer Programme) is the continuation of the #OnTheMove programme and consists of one module running from July to September. In addition through #OnTheMove academies SportMalta offers a number of specialised Sports Academies that run in conjunction with various Sports Organisations and Associations including Triathlon; Basketball; Horseracing; Gymnastics; Volleyball; Handball and Synchronised Swimming.
Additionally, SportMalta also offers a programme of adventure and multi-sport to entice and encourage young people to participate in a programme that is both fun and challenging. In these programmes young people are challenged in a variety of adventure activities including, amongst others abseiling and canoeing. In a multi-sport programme youth will be given the opportunity to play a variety of games and learn the rules, techniques and tactics. At the end of a course with SportMalta young people can choose to join an organisation and take up further training or else pursue the activity with their friends at a recreation level.
Physical education (PE) in schools is a compulsory subject that provides regular opportunities of physical activity for children in a school setting. Physical Education (PE) is a core subject within the curricula across the educational spectrum, promoting a healthy lifestyle in all students. Subject content focuses on the development of psychomotor skills and physical, social and psychological development through a variety of games, sports and exercises that teach fair play, values, equity, teamwork, leadership and social inclusion.
At secondary level, Health Education includes Physical Education and Sport (PE), aspects of Home Economics (HE) and Personal,Social and Career Development (PSCD). This learning area promotes enjoyment through engagement in physical activity that inculcates a healthy lifestyle as well as a positive disposition towards oneself, others and life. Commitment to social communities and environmental issues also forms part of the students’ development at this level.
Provision of physical activity at post-secondary level is also being catered for though as yet this is not mandatory.
The minimum number of hours of participation in PE, as outlined in the National Curriculum Framework of 2012 is 5% and 10% of the total taught time for lessons of primary school and secondary school respectively.
Professional Learning Courses, dealing with different topics, are organised annually and normally target a specific cohort of teachers. Attendance is mandatory for PE teachers hailing from State Schools while those employed by Non-State Schools may apply on voluntary basis. Guest speakers may also include specialists from overseas.
The Physical Education Department works in close collaboration with schools to develop a School Development Programme (SDP) specifically targeted towards fostering a healthy lifestyle among students, including through the provision of extracurricular activities. The sharing of good practice is also highlighted during such meetings and to this effect a social media network has been established in order for schools to demonstrate what is being done and, in most cases, is emulated by other schools.
As per above mainly through the formation of schools teams that will go on to participate in national interschool festivals and competitions organised by the Physical Education Department in conjunction with . It is to be noted that emphasis is laid upon participation rather than the competitive element.
During scholastic year 2016-2017 a pilot project entitled ‘’ was launched by in collaboration with the , St James Capua Hospital and the (ITS). Students from three different colleges will be participating in this project which consists of 360 minutes of more physical activity per week and healthy eating. Participating students will then be compared with students who did not participate in this programme, to evaluate the effectiveness of this project.
In tertiary education the Institute for Physical Education and Sport (IPES) of the University of Malta was established in 2002 with the aim of providing Certificate, Diploma, Degree Courses and professional development courses in Physical Education and Sport and to carry out research in the same area. It also services the requirements of the Faculty of Education in Physical Education. PE has been taught at University since the establishment of the Faculty of Education in 1978.
The Institute also strives to establish National and International links related to PE and Sport and to attract foreign students under European programmes. Current affiliations include the European Health and Fitness Association (EHFA), the European Network of Sport Science, Education and Employment (ENSSEE), the UK Association for Physical Education (AfPE), and the Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) to entice and encourage young people to participate in a programme that is both fun and challenging. In these programmes Young people are challenged in a variety of adventure activities including, amongst others abseiling and canoeing. In a multi-sport programme youth will be given the opportunity to play a variety of games and learn the rules, techniques and tactics. At the end of a course with SportMalta young people can choose to join an organisation and take up further training or else pursue the activity with their friends at a recreation level.
SportMalta has teamed up with a local bank to introduce a financial scheme to revamp the Youth Development Scheme. This scheme is intended to maximize the benefits from funds available for the development of young elite athletes who have not yet attained 18 years of age. The Youth Development Scheme shall focuses on a maximum of 20 athletes that are chosen according to their merits connected to their performance in their sport.
A project entitled ‘Move 360’ was launched by SportMalta in collaboration with the Health Promotion Unit, St James Capua Hospital and the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS). Students from three different colleges will be participating in this project which consists of 360 minutes of more physical activity per week and healthy eating. Participating students will then be compared with students who did not participate in this programme, to evaluate the effectiveness of this project.
Also, national sport organisations are invited to visit schools in order to promote their sport, even if it does not form part of the fixed syllabus. It is strongly believed that such a collaboration offers a win-win situation as the students would be exposed to a new discipline through training from a qualified instructor while national sport organisations stand to benefit by luring students towards their sport, this increasing the basis of their fundamental groups.
The government is increasing financial incentives to tackle the lack of professional athletes, assists financial local councils to organise specific sporting activities, offers grassroots and elite level financial support and provides financial incentives for structured projects. Moreover it provides financial assistance to sport organisations.
Also an alternative source of funding is through EU funds which some organisations managed to tap successfully and have provided high quality programmes to students.