The waterpolo fixtures of the 2008 National League, sponsored as from this year by Bank of Valletta, were drawn yesterday at the BOV Centre in Sta Venera.
Nine teams will be engaged in competition with the teams splitting into the top four and the bottom five at the end of the preliminary round. Then, they will battle it out for the championship - to be played over two further rounds - and the second division title respectively.
The first matches, this year not part of the championship, will be played on Saturday, with San Ġiljan coming up against Sirens at 5 p.m. and Neptunes facing Sliema at 6.30 p.m. The first match will be valid for the Sportswriters Association Cup while the winners of the second will receive the President's Cup.
The league preliminary round will start on Friday, June 6 when San Ġiljan play Marsaxlokk and Sliema face Marsascala. On June 7, Neptunes come up against Exiles followed by the Sirens vs Ta' Xbiex clash. Thereafter, matches will be played every Friday and Saturday until the competition comes to end in the third week in August and followed by the KO competitions.
The teams are: Exiles Elle-et-vire, Marsascala Ocean and Sky, Marsaxlokk Freeport, Neptunes Vodafone, Otters ASC, San Ġiljan Tropicana Juices, Sirens Centro Casalinga, Sliema McDonald's and Ta' Xbiex Mermaids Paradise.
Otters will not be taking part in the preliminary round and will join the bottom group for the second division title as from July 5.
Club delegates were yesterday addressed by Michael Galea, Executive Head, CEO's Office BOV, and Robert Ebejer, ASA president with Clyde Puli, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport, also addressing those present for the press conference in Sta Venera.
"After the successful conclusion of the BOV Winter League, won by Neptunes, we are eagerly looking forward to the start of the 2008 National League, the first since the bank signed up as official sponsors of the ASA of Malta," Galea said.
He added that through this partnership the bank is strengthening its position as the major sports sponsor in Malta.
While showing his association's gratitude towards BOV for their support, Ebejer stressed on the importance of this partnership and outlined the ASA's strategic plan to improve waterpolo, while thanking the media for the role they play in the promotion of this sport.
He said that the ASA has an extensive programme for this year, culminating in the national team's participation in the Comen Cup towards the end of September.
He also said that early next year the national team will be fully engaged in preparation for the qualifying round of the European 'B' Championship in April/May 2009, in the hope of proceeding to the finals in Switzerland later on in September.
Parliamentary Secretary Puli praised the support the BOV is providing as incentive to several sports entities and said that the government, through the Kunsill Malti għall-Isport, is also committed to continue assisting directly and indirectly sports federations.
During the activity, Steve Camilleri, of Neptunes, and Patrick Carter, Marsascala ASC vice-president, on behalf of Darren Ciappara, were presented with the Player of the Year Awards of the first and second division respectively.
"After winning two consecutive leagues with Neptunes, it is gratifying to be rewarded on a personal basis. This award will act as an incentive to keep on improving and help towards winning more titles for Neptunes," Camilleri said.
This was the first such award that this player has won.
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