Volleyball in Malta has the regular side to it. Lots of dedicated players at all levels, from the superleague to youth teams, put in long hours towards improving their game under the watchful eye of their demanding coaches, while administrators struggle with the many challenges involved in running any sports club.
However, there is one aspect which, perhaps more than any other, tends to distinguish the way volleyball is perceived on these Islands. This is the role that volleyball plays in promoting and practicing solidarity in relation to different sectors of society which require that extra bit of support.
Every year sees various causes being supported in some way or another by past, current and beginner volleyball players and their clubs, as well as by the Malta Volleyball Association itself. In 2016, these included the endorsement by the MVA of the awareness campaign concerning Breast Cancer and the participation of groups of players in the Puttinu Cares Marathon in aid of children suffering from cancer.
Perhaps the most significant in terms of involvement by the volleyball community at large, however, was the Annual Volleyball Marathon in aid of id-Dar tal-Providenza, which provides residential facilities for the disabled. The latter generated some half a million euros in support, a staggering sum for one event, especially considering the size of the islands and their population. The benefits for the game of volleyball were also evident, however, given the exposure volleyball received in the media. It is also a fact that this exposure generates interest in volleyball by new players, and leads to the occasional return to the game of ex-players, coaches and officials.
MVA President Jesmond Saliba, who is himself a leading proponent of the link between sport and solidarity, says that “I have always believed in the scope of sport as being at the service of the society within which it is played, and even beyond. In the same way companies have their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, I believe that volleyball should give something back to society. However, I am also convinced that volleyball also has a lot to gain from showcasing its sportsmen and women in a context which goes beyond the competitive element”.