At the end of the 52-hour Volleyball Marathon at midnight of Sunday July 26th, it was all smiles, champagne showers and gratitude. Gratitude towards 40 or so young male and female players, coaches, referees, score keepers, medical doctors and nurses, who decided to challenge the heat of the day (41 degrees on Saturday) and the stillness of the night and play 52 hours of non-stop Volleyball in aid of Dar tal-Providenza. Their generosity in time and effort was matched by that of the Maltese people in donations to the tune of €121,193 and counting.
The marathon had its official kick-off Friday evening by the President of Malta, Dr George Abela, no stranger himself to Volleyball marathons with his direct involvement for around 16 years in the Kerygma organized marathons which ran until 2004. He praised the athletes for their efforts and told them they were an example to the whole nation.
In his welcome speech, Fr Martin Micallef, Director of the Dar tal-Providenza thanked the President for gladly accepting to start off the marathon. He touches on the four main reasons behind the decision to resurrect the Volleyball Marathon. Naturally, collecting money towards the running of the Home at a time when donations were seasonally low was one of them. However, he believed the three other reasons were just as important: using the marathon to encourage voluntary work (well over 200 people from all walks of life and age groups volunteered their time); using the marathon to encourage sports – in this case Volleyball -- for a healthy lifestyle and using the marathon to emphasise, if there ever was a need, that society has to be respectful towards persons with disability, to treat them with the dignity they deserve and to make available to them choices and opportunities that every citizen has a right to enjoy.
During the course of the three days, the players and organizers had time to meet the Prime Minister, Dr Lawrence Gonzi and Mrs Kate Gonzi, the Speaker of the House, Dr Louis Galea, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Joseph Muscat, the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Ms Dolores Cristina, H.G. the Archbishop, Mons. Pawl Cremona OP and the HG the Archbishop Emeritus, Mons. Joseph Mercieca. Mr. Lawrence Zammit, Chairman of Air Malta (one of the main sponsors) accompanied by his wife also found time to visit and meet the players. All of them also spent some time answering the phones tied to the donations.
In the evenings, the Volleyball Marathon was broadcast ‘live’ on Education Channel 22 with simulcasts during various times by TVM, ONE TV, NET TV and Calypso Music TV. During the day, reports on the proceedings were regularly given through ‘live’ link-ups with Super ONE Radio, Radio 101, Radio RTK, Bay Radio, Calypso Radio and XFM 100.2.
Earlier in the week, the volleyball players, accompanied by members of the Organising Committee called on the President, Dr George Abela at the Palace in Valletta and on H.G. the Archbishop, Mons. Pawl Cremona OP at his residence in Attard.
Those who still wish to make a donation can do so through the Marathons’s BOV Account number 40018198977.
The Director, staff and residents of Dar tal-Providenza together with the Organising Committee of the ‘Volleyball ghall-Providenza’ wish to say a big THANK YOU to all the players, volunteers, sponsors and all those who made their donation. We assure you all of our prayers.
Until next time ……….