The tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea is known for its love for sports. With football ranking as the most popular followed and practiced sport Malta. Rugby is another prominent sport. With the national rugby team ranked at the forefront in the world’s rankings.
Other popular sports in Malta include motor sports, water sports and traditional sports.
The Knights of St. John introduced traditional sports in Malta. Yet the British influenced the love for sports and its training during their 150 year rule of Malta.
Defining Sports in Malta
Sport is an athletic activity and involves physical exertion and skill. Most sports entail a degree of competition. An athlete is a professional in their practiced sport.
The importance of physical activity is undeniable. Everyone should undertake one hour or more of physical activity per day. Physical activity is significant for everyone as it promotes a healthy lifestyle.
The importance of physical activity lead many people to play sports with their friends. Practice sporting activities indoors or outdoors. Sports can be individual or played in teams. You need training provided by coaches for both forms of sports.
A considerable amount of people follow athletes play sports. While some people watch sports on their television. Others cheer their athletes or teams in stadiums as spectators.
Malta gave more prominence to sports with the turn of the millennium. In 2003 Maltese Law incorporated a Sports Act. This law gave the ‘Kunsill Malti għall-isport’ today known as SportMalta the responsibility to promote sport and to put in place government policy on sport.
Training at any sport comes at a cost. This differs between the type of sport and within the same sport it differs between clubs. Its best to check out the different clubs to get the rates charged before you enroll.
Malta has invested in sports facilities throughout the years. The island’s sporting facilities are excellent. It has an impressive number of sport complexes. Such as the National Pool Sports Complex, Marsa Sports Complex, Cottonera Sports Complex, Ta’ Qali, Kirkop Sports Complex, The National Shooting Ranges and Malta Snooker Academy. These places provide facilities for swimming, rugby, tennis, football, basketball, baseball, bowling, and cricket among other sporting activities.
Competitive sports range from football, water polo, basketball, rugby to tennis to name but a few. If you prefer sports of a less competitive nature you can go trekking or scuba diving.
A National Sports School opened its doors for its first students in September 2016. This centre of excellence is located in Pembroke. It is the only school dedicated for sports in Malta.
Sports for Kids
Sport is of paramount importance in children’s daily routines. It provides all round development. Organised sports for kids helps them develop in several areas. These being physical, emotional, social, cognitive and moral. Physical activity helps them be fit and healthy.
Physical activity comes naturally to kids as they yearn to play. It is of utmost importance to take young children to playgrounds and let them engage in free play. It is a parent’s responsibility to help their kids choose appropriate sport. Enrolling them for any sport is a good way to use all their energy into something positive.
Football is one of the most favourite sports in Malta. Played everywhere such as school playgrounds and streets. Most of the Maltese towns and villages have a football club and a football field.
Introduced in the 19th century by the British rulers during their occupation of Malta. Yet a formal league was only set up in 1909. Before that, football was played as a pastime and for entertaining purposes.
Many Maltese people are fanatical about football. Most of which are supporters of European clubs and follow European leagues. They cheer international teams during the World Cup and Euro. With England and Italy having the greatest support.
Maltese are so into football that though being a small island it has several leagues for clubs to compete in. These are the Premier League, the Challenge League and the National Amateur League. Women compete in their own division. Whilst Gozo have their own league. Youths compete in the national youth league. The Maltese FA Trophy is a knock-out tournament held once a year.
The most sought-after clubs to join are Valletta FC, Hamrun Spartans FC, Hibernians FC, Birkirkara FC, Floriana FC and Sliema Wonderers.
Rugby is another sport introduced in Malta under the British occupation. In the 19th century British sailors played rugby. British servicemen comprised the first rugby club set up in 1946. It was towards the end of the 20th century that the rugby we know today started its organisation. Forming several clubs, initiating domestic competitions and participating in international games.
Given Malta’s population and the number of players it produced. The men’s national team achieved a several successes. Some players forming part of the Maltese rugby teams are migrants. Who returned back to Malta from the UK and Australia.
These are the rugby clubs situated on the island. Falcons RFC, Stompers RFC, Kavallieri RFC, Overseas RUF, Wolves RFC and Lions RFC.
In the late 19th century the British Services launched field hockey in Malta. Today’s Hockey Association Malta was set up in 1968. Located at the Kordin Complex is the National Hockey Stadium.
The Maltese National Hockey League is the official league. Teams in the hockey league are from towns or schools. At present five competitive teams take part in the Malta National Hockey League. The clubs are Floriana Young Stars, White Hart HC, Sliema GREE Hotsticks, Qormi DAIKIN HC and Rabat Depiro.
Every year the Malta National Hockey team participates in international fixtures.
The Malta Basketball Association regulates basketball in Malta. Set up in March 1964 it became an affiliate of the Malta Olympic Committee later that year. It was in 1967 that Malta has joined the International Amateur Basketball Federation. Malta participates in international tournaments. It has competed in European Championship for Small Countries. Besides the Games of the Small States of Europe. In the early years of the new millennium Malta made it to the qualifying stages of Euro Basket.
Basketball in Malta still struggles with popularity. Some of the clubs found in Malta are Hibernians Basketball Club, Starlites Basketball Club, Depiro Basketball Club and Floriana B.C.
Tennis is one of the Malta’s leading sports. Established in Malta under the British rule. With the first organisations being set up in the 1920 and 1949. Though as years passed by these clubs have been dissolved. The British presence in Malta enhanced tennis. Besides constructing most of the island’s tennis courts. The British gave birth to tennis in Malta as we know it today. This was in 1966. Tennis has been thriving throughout recent years. In the early 2000s the local federation took part in several international tournaments. Besides having organised successful international events in Malta.
You will find tennis clubs spread out all around the island. To name but a few are Birkirkara Tennis Club, Marsa Sports Club, Mgarr Tennis Club, Pembroke Tennis Club, Vittoriosa Lawn Tennis Club, and Żebbuġ Tennis Club. During the year competitive tennis games are played on a regular basis. You need to be a member of a club to play tennis. This is so to be able to book a tennis court and have preferential rates. Membership fees differ between clubs.
Recent years saw an increase in demand for contact sports such as boxing. This brought about an increase in gyms and clubs. Which offer training by professional coaches in this sport. The Malta Boxing Association supports all athletes, boxing gyms and boxing clubs. The association authorizes boxing events held in Malta.
There are other sport disciplines practiced and played in Malta. Yet are not followed by a large amount of spectators. Such as volleyball, athletics, squash, table tennis, badminton and snooker. If you are a skateboard or BMX enthusiast then head to the Msida skate park. Or the BMX indoor skate park in Pembroke.
Each of these sports have their respective association, clubs and venues for training purposes. For a comprehensive list of all sports practiced in Malta check out the Sport Malta website.
Water Sports in Malta
The number of water sports available has increased throughout the years. Water sports in Malta are high in demand and enjoyable. To name but a few such as swimming, sailing, windsurfing, diving, kayaking and jetfly. Since Malta gets a lot of wind it makes it an ideal location for kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing.
Water polo is popular in Malta. You will find water polo pitches situated along the coastal towns. Thus, it is very prominent in these areas. Water polo was played in 1925. By 1928 Malta’s National Water Polo team participated in the Summer Olympics Games. Malta was represented twice in the Men’s Water Polo Olympic Games. Maltese clubs compete in International and European club competitions.
Along the years demand for water polo grew. This due to the successful results obtained through participation in major international competitions. The domestic league has two divisions being Premier and First Division. A couple of Maltese water polo clubs are Neptunes WPSC, Sliema A.S.C., Valletta United W.P.C. and Marsaxlokk A.S.C.
Recent years saw a growth in this sporting activity. Stand up paddle boarding is easy to learn. T he coach starts from the basics of standing and moving on a board. Than proceed on how to paddle in a kneeling position. After that you proceed on your feet.
Windsurfing is a prominent water sport activity in Malta. Due to Malta’s warm waters and easy access to beaches and windsurfing spots. Between November to March is the ideal time for windsurfing. Wind conditions are favorable during this period of the year. Windsurfing is a single person water sport. This is a amalgamation of surfing and sailing. A windsurfer has a small 3 to 5 meter board which uses wind speed to sail. The speed at which the board sails varies with that of the wind.
Considered to be a leisure water sport. Loved by locals and tourists alike. You can practice this sport along Malta’s, Gozo and Comino shoreline. The kayak is a small lightweight watercraft. It has one or two seats where people can sit. People riding the kayak are provided with a dual-blade paddle to move through water.
Otherwise known as scuba diving. It is a water sport enjoyed both by locals and tourists. To explore and experience the amazing sea world you need an oxygen tank. It is the perfect way to see the underwater sea life. Diving leaves the diver with a memorable underwater experience. A guide accompanies the diving group. Besides a training session is undertaken before diving.
You can train swimming with various clubs in Malta. In general, all pools used for water polo training can be used to provide swimming practice. A couple of clubs providing swimming lessons are Neptunes WPSC, Sliema ASC and San Giljan ASC. Swimming lessons by experienced swimming instructors are also provided at the National Pool Complex, MFA Swimming Pool and the YUE Aquatic Center.
Traditional Sports in Malta
‘Boċċi’ is the most popular traditional Maltese sports. This was first brought to Malta in the 16th century by Knights of St. John. This game is like Bowls in England, ‘Bocce’ in Italy, and ‘Pétanque’ or ‘Boules’ in France.
A unique characteristic of the Maltese game is the shape of the bowls. The Maltese ‘boċċi’ are cylindrical in shape. The foreign countries bowls are spherical. Another difference is the pitch on which you play the game. The Maltese play the game on a sand covered smooth surface. The foreign game is played on manicured grass or synthetic grass surface. There are then a couple of minor differences in the rules.
This sport is very popular with the Maltese and most of the island’s villages and towns have a ‘boċċi’ club. In fact many of the Maltese who immigrated to Canada, Australia and the USA took the game with them. There they set up the traditional Maltese ‘boċċi’ clubs.
You can play the game either between two opponents or in the form of two teams. With each team consisting of 2 to 4 members. When the game is played in teams, one team plays with the red bowls whilst the other with the blue bowls. There are eight balls and one target ball known as the jack. The object of the game is to roll the bowls closest to the jack.
First brought into Malta by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century. At the time the Knights encouraged the Maltese to take part in horse racing. The ‘Imnarja’ horse which originates from that period still takes place in Rabat. Every year on the 29th of June.
Horse Racing is still very popular in Malta. Today, horse racing takes place at the Marsa Race Course. Races occur every Sunday between the months of October and May. By and large these horse races comprise of trotting. A wheeled cart is secured to the horse. The jockey sits on this cart guiding the horse to trot at a certain pace.
The ‘Regatta’ is another cheered traditional sport. This national event is held twice a year on the 8th September and 31st March. The ‘Regatta’ held on 8th September celebrates Victory Day. That held on 31st March commemorates the end for foreign occupation in Malta. The men’s ‘Regatta’ is a rowing race made up of ten races covering a distance of 1,040 meters each. The races take place from the Grand Harbor in Valletta and last for a couple of hours. Thousands of spectators get together to watch this occasion.
There are seven different rowing clubs in Malta all take part in the ‘Regatta’. These clubs compete in two categories of races. One of the categories is for professional rowers and the other for amateur rowers. Each category has five races. The club which attains the highest number of points from all the five races wins the category. The ‘kajjik’, ‘dgħajsa tal-midalji’ and ‘dgħajsa tal-pass frejgatina’ are some of watercraft used for these races.
Each race has a different boat. Points are awarded to the first three boats who arrive to the finish line. Each race has different points. The last race has the largest number of points.
On 8th September 2018 a women’s ‘Regatta’ was introduced. This consists of one race covering a distance of 1,040 meters.
Built in different villages around Malta are a several skeet shooting ranges. All ranges are well-equipped. Skeet shooting has become a leading shooting sport activity. It is a competitive sport whereby competitors use shotguns to break flying targets. These targets are made of clay and are flung into the air from two fixed stations. Clay targets travel at a high speed and are shot into the air at a variety of angles.
Both by beginners and skillful shooters can practice this sport. You can practice this sport throughout the year. Malta’s optimal weather conditions make this possible.
Motor Sport in Malta
Many individuals cheer for motor sports. It was first introduced in Malta in the 1950s by enthusiasts in the British Forces. At the time they established the first Motor Racing Club. Any Maltese person or boy scout could join the club. After several years clubs were on the increase. In 1976 this resulted in the establishment of the first federation. This being the Maltese Motor Sport Federation.
Motor Sports comprises of a range of activities. This being drag racing, autocross, hill climb, motocross, karting and banger racing. All these sports have their respective championships.
Malta’s popular race track is situated in Hal Far. This is well known for its ¼ mile race. Another popular race held in Malta is the Mdina Grand Prix which happens in October.
Marathons in Malta
Running in Malta has garnered a good size of individuals. Many marathons takes place during the year in Malta. Some worth mentioning are the following:
- The Malta Marathon and Malta Half Marathon – Held every year towards the end of February or beginning of March;
- Gozo Half Marathon – Takes place towards the end of April or early May;
- Zurrieq Half Marathon – Held in November;
- Malta International Challenge Marathon – Happens around November;
- Attard 5k and Attard 10k – Held every year towards the end of January or beginning of February;
- The Grid – Happens in May;
- Xterra Malta and Gozo.
If you want to run as a form of workout or for enjoyment you can do so along one of Malta’s seafront promenades.
Sports for Adventure Lovers
Rock Climbing and Abseiling
Register with an experienced and professional climber to explore the uncharted areas of the island through rock climbing and abseiling. You undertake various lessons with guided instructors. Whereby you will visit valleys and cliffs with crevices which are ideal to climb. In Malta you will find two clubs through which you can practice this activity. These being the Malta Rock Climbing Club and Malta Climbing Club.
Trek around the countryside or around Malta’s shoreline. To discover the island’s natural beauty. You will walk at your own pace together with an experienced guide who will show you all the details to look out for.
Sports Travel in Malta
The latest niche in Maltese tourism is sports travel. A diverse range of sports disciplines is practiced in Malta. The island has all the necessary sport facilities and training pitches. You can engage a destination management company to organise private sporting activities and tournaments. You will get all the needed help. From identifying the required facilities, accommodation for athletes and all the necessary logistics.
Over the last few years eSports gained popularity throughout the world. Without exception Malta followed suit. It caters for the organisation of eSports events. Malta has distinctive venues, services and infrastructure to cater for these events. Engage an event planner to guide you in the organisation and execution of the event.