The National School of Sport, in collaboration with the Acquatic Sport Association of Malta, will give its students specialising in waterpolo the opportunity to conduct a four-day training camp in Ostia, Italy, this week.

The initiative is the brainchild of school head Robert Magro and Malta waterpolo coach Karl Izzo who have worked hard in the last few weeks to provide their young students the opportunity to experience at first-hand what it means to practice their favourite sport in a professional manner.

The NSS contingent will be formed by 16 students who will be under the supervision of Niki Lanzon, who is the waterpolo coach at the school, and Graziella Galea, head of the Department of Physical Education. They will be working closely with Izzo.

The NSS students will be spending four days at the Centro Federale Polo Natatorio of the Italian Swimming Federation where they will have the opportunity to train alongside Italy’s youth teams and several Olympic swimmers.

“After I took over as head master of the school, I held a number of meetings with Karl Izzo and Joe Caruana Curran and we came up with the idea of giving our waterpolo students the opportunity to experience, even for a short time, what it takes to be a professional player,” Magro told a news conference.

“I’m sure that this will be a great experience for our students and I hope that they will make the most of it.

“It’s our intention here at the National School of Sport to organise similar camps in other disciplines and in fact we are planning to take our basketball selection for a short camp in Gozo in the coming months.”

Details of the young players’ training camp in Italy were given by national coach Izzo who said that they have prepared a busy schedule for the NSS students in Italy where they will have the opportunity to meet with top players and coaches in Ostia.

“We want to give these youngsters a proper taste of what it’s like to conduct a waterpolo career in a professional setting,” Izzo said.

“If one looks at the camp’s schedule one sees that they have some tough training sessions led by the national team physio coach Edward Bonello. They will also have the opportunity to meet with Malta national team player Jordan Camilleri, who is currently playing in Rome.

“I think Jordan can be of a great example for the young players as he managed to progress in his waterpolo career and at the same time managed to become a doctor.

“Another key speaker will be Mino Di Cecca, who is the assistant coach of the Italian U-17 and U-19 national teams.”

Izzo added that he has lined up three friendly matches against the youth teams of Lazio and VIS Nova Roma as well as Roma SIS’s women’s team, who are one of the best sides in the Italian top division.

Joe Caruana Curran, president of the ASA, said that his organisation are fully behind such initiatives who will provide these young players valuable experience and help them to develop into our future national team

players.

“Since 2012, the ASA has been committed to invest heavily in our young talent and it was actually in Ostia where we had taken the decision to give all our national teams the opportunity to compete in various international events to gain much needed experience,” Caruana Curran said.

“That investment has reaped the desired dividends as today our national team has managed to qualify to the European Championship finals in two successive editions.

“But we want to go beyond that and surely the National School of Sport is a key partner in our drive to further improve the sport of waterpolo.

“The ASA will not stop here and in fact we are working on a plan that will see our U-13, U-15 and U-17 teams to compete in the Italian league, where they will have the opportunity to play at a high level week in week out.”

Also present for yesterday’s news conference was SportMalta’s CEO Mark Cutajar who said: “Sport Malta and the government are committed to support such initiatives which will surely play a huge role in the future of these young waterpolo players.

“I have been involved in sport for the last 25 years and this is the first time ever that I see young students being given the opportunity to train at a professional level at such a young age. I’m sure that these students will make the most of the opportunity and on their return from Italy will be more motivated to become better players.”

The National School of Sport has been operating since 2012 and offers talented young sportsmen the opportunity to continue practice their sport and at the same time continue their studies at secondary level.

Asked whether there are plans to extend the NSS to Sixth Form level, Cutajar said: “I can confirm that we have been discussing this issue for several months and there is every intent of making it happen. However, we are studying various models on how it can be done because we want to make sure that it’s done in the right way.”

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