Skills4Sports hosted its opening conference on Mediterranean Youth, Sports and Employment in Malta


On December 3rd, 2021 the Malta Football Association (MFA) hosted the Skills4Sports opening conference in St' Pauls Bay. The eight participating partner organisations of Skills4Sports came together to discuss ways of addressing youth unemployment in six Mediterranean countries through the development of sports skills. Skills4Sports reflects a joint Mediterranean effort to increase employment among the youth and is very generously supported by the European Union. The EU provides 90% of the close to 3 million euros funding for this project, demonstrating its commitment to the fight against youth unemployment.The conference was attended by a total number of approximately 50 high profile participants in addition to the representatives of each partner organisation.

Opening remarks were offered by the Vice-President of the MFA,  Dr. Matthew Paris, the Honourable Dr. Justyne Caruana, Minister of Education, and the Shadow Minister of Sport and Education, Mr. Clyde Puli. Mr. Charalampos Papaioannou of the SNE Youth Policy and Programmes and the MFA Director of Football Operations, Mr. Stephen Azzopardi also spoke at the conference.

Each partner organisation contributed an analysis of the situation with regards to unemployment and the sports sector in their country, focusing specifically on NEETs -- i.e. young people aged 15-29 who are not in employment, education or training -- and explained the oportunities and challenges that each organisation is facing locally, in terms of implementing the project. The participating organisations are the Evia Development Agency SA and Trek Development of Infrastructures and Services SA (both of Greece), the International South-South Cooperation (Italy), the Catalan Association Cluster of Sports Industry (Spain), Palestine: Sports for life and Salfit Development Association (both of Palestine), the Rene Moawad Foundation (Lebanon), and the Malta Football Association that hosted the event. 

In the lively discussion that ensued, the conference participants and attendees were able to exchange views, compare the social, political and economic dimentions of unemployment -- especially among younger people -- in their countries and discuss the role and the potential of sports in their societies. This was a very fruitful exchange of experiences, ideas and best practices, filling all participants with a sense of anticipation and hope for the future of the project and its potential to create jobs for the young in the sports sector of the participating countries.

Concluding remarks were offered by the Parliamentary Secretary of European Affairs, the Honourable Zrinzi Azzopardi, the European Fitness Champion and Personal Trainer Ms. Leanne Bartolo, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport, Recreation and Voluntary Organisations, the Honourable Mr. Clifton Grima.