The Gibraltar FA will replace the existing pitch at the Victoria Stadium with a new FIFA Quality PRO turf later this month, in a move that has prompted intense discussions with the Ministry for Sport to minimise disruption to football matches and local athletes preparing for the forthcoming Island Games in Gibraltar.
Work to lay the new pitch will commence on May 27, after which the stadium will mostly be out of bounds to other sports and events.
However following negotiations between senior officials at the GFA and the Minister for Sport, Steven Linares, athletes will be allowed to train for up to three and half hours daily as from May 27 in the build-up to the games.
The news was well received by one athlete Sean Collado who was last week selected as part of the Island Games athletics team.
Mr Collado, who had expressed his concerns at the uncertainty athletes were experiencing over their training, welcomed the agreement as he trained at the Victoria Stadium yesterday.
“That’s great news,” he told the Chronicle. “Three and a half hours is more than enough for us.”
In order to facilitate that training, the existing athletics track at the Victoria Stadium will be repaired over three days prior to May 26, with “zero impact” expected on scheduled football matches.
The work to lay the new pitch means the opening ceremony of the Island Games on July 6 will be held at the new Europa Point stadium.
The new pitch at the Victoria Stadium will be laid by June 21.
The government and the GFA are in further discussions to re-lay the existing Victoria Stadium pitch at the new Lathbury Stadium.
“The Government of Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Football Association are delighted that these agreements have been reached for the benefit of Gibraltar’s footballers, athletes and the wider sporting community and would like to take this opportunity to jointly wish Gibraltar’s sportsmen and sportswomen every success in their preparations for the Island Games,” the government and the GFA said in a statement.
Anecdotally the agreement came on the same day Gibraltar marked three years since joining FIFA as a member.
Pic by Stephen Ignacio