(Photo: Badminton Malta)

Small states, big victories

11/13/2023 2:15 PM |  BadmintonEurope.com |  Sara González Martínez (BEC)
The inaugural edition of the Small States of Europe Badminton Team Championships brought together eight small nations, including Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, and the host nation Malta, for a weekend of intense competition and camaraderie.

This groundbreaking badminton event took place from 3 to 5 November at Malta's Cottonera Sports Complex.

The seeds of this event were planted in 2017 during a Badminton Europe Congress in Prague. Malta, Cyprus, and Monaco envisioned team badminton event uniting small European states, as badminton is not part of the Games Of The Small States of Europe (GSSE). Six years later, their vision has materialised, as Malta played host to badminton athletes from small nations across Europe.

Owen Grech, President of Badminton Malta, reflects on Malta's achievement: “I am immensely proud of Team Malta for their outstanding achievement in the inaugural Small States of Europe Badminton Team Championships. Winning the bronze medal is a testament to our players' dedication and skill. Their hard work has not only brought glory to our nation but also elevated the sport of badminton in Malta.”

Grech expresses the pride felt by Malta, a nation that successfully hosted an international team event despite being a small association with limited resources.“This milestone is a source of inspiration for all aspiring athletes and a stepping stone to even greater success in the future. Congratulations to Team Malta!”, adds Grech, congratulating the host team for their bronze medal.

The players' perspectives
Cyprus emerged as the champions of the competition, securing a hard-fought victory against Iceland in the final, with a score of 3-2. Iceland claimed the runner-up position, while the hosts, Malta, clinched the bronze medal after a gripping match for the third spot against the Faroe Islands, which ended 3-2.

Sam Cassar, a player from Malta, reflects, “I was very curious and excited to see what all the countries stand in level and obviously compare us to the other small states. In my opinion, it turns out that all of us are at a very similar level and I believe we can help all of us improve together and push each other to the limits in events like these.”

Matthew Abela’s sentiments echo the personal significance of the event for Maltese players. “Since it was in Malta, the competition meant quite a lot to myself and my teammates. To be able to perform in front of your friends and family was special and for Malta to get on the podium was a great achievement for the country.”

Elena Christodoulou, a player from Cyprus, describes the emotional high of Cyprus' triumph, emphasising the unique joy of sharing success in a team event. “The experience will be one of the best moments of my career. I still can’t describe with words how happy and proud I am of the whole team. As a player who is mostly traveling alone to international tournaments, I was so excited to share this experience with my team and coach. I’m not going to lie, I was also anxious and I felt a bit of pressure before the games because I knew how important this tournament was for us.”

Badminton Malta, excelling once again
Jo’Anne Cassar, General Secretary of Badminton Malta, highlights the association's resilience and commitment to fostering badminton in Malta. “Badminton Malta has once again demonstrated its ability to excel despite being a small association with limited resources. Through effective collaboration and hard work, the association successfully hosted several events over the past 18 months, including the Badminton Europe Congress in April 2022, the first Future Series in December 2022, and the Small States Team Championships in November 2023.”

“This particular event was especially noteworthy due to its location on home ground, and the fact that most participating nations rarely have the opportunity to partake in a team event,” adds Cassar. “The camaraderie, energy, and enthusiasm built over the past few months will undoubtedly solidify this event's place on the European calendar. Winning a bronze medal further contributed to the event's sense of significance.”

Cassar extends her gratitude to committee members, Badminton Malta staff, sponsors, stakeholders, participating nations, technical officials, volunteers, and helpers. She acknowledges their crucial roles in ensuring the event's success, making it an unforgettable weekend of great badminton.

For more information, visit Badminton Malta’s website: badmintonmalta.org.

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