Sliema ASC and national team waterpolo player Dino Zammit on why he decided to become an Ambassador for the Mediterranean College of Sports and how he believes it could be a game-changer for student-athletes
Dino Zammit has had a highly successful career as a waterpolo player, winning three league titles and six knock-out cups across stints with Sliema ASC, Sirens and San Ġiljan, as well as representing Malta in four European Championships over 10 years in the national team, most recently as vice-captain in the 2022 championships in Split, Croatia.
He also recently embarked on an academic journey and is now in his final year of reading for a BSc in Sport Management and Business at Herefordshire University.
But in the early stages of his career, Zammit says, he often prioritised sports to the detriment of his studies, and looking back, he wishes he had the opportunity to integrate them at an early stage. So the dual-career path championed by the Mediterranean College of Sports is something that fills him with excitement.
“I became an ambassador for the Mediterranean College of Sports because I believe the opportunities this school is going to offer student-athletes is something spectacular,” Zammit says. “It’s something we’ve never had before, and something that I’ve always hoped we could have. So I wanted to be part of it and support it however I could.”
Zammit’s sporting journey began at the age of eight, following in the footsteps of his father, also a water polo player. With a strong focus on bettering himself as an athlete, it was only a year spent outside Malta playing professionally in Serbia that prompted him to seek out the degree he’s now reading for.
“I finally started to look for a balance—integrating water polo and my sporting career, with all my achievements and everything that has got me this far, into my academic career,” he says.
“If something like the Mediterranean College of Sports had existed when I was younger, I would have been the first one to apply! I was always focused entirely on sports, and the only advice I would get was to become a PE Teacher. So a place like this would have helped me see other opportunities. I think this college is going to open a lot of students’ eyes to the fact that sport isn’t just the game. Everything that goes on behind the scenes is as important, or even more so, than what’s happening on the pitch or in the pool.”
Asked about what promising student-athletes need to achieve their full potential, Zammit, who now works in the educational sector, says he believes young people will benefit hugely from their school working hand-in-hand with their coaches and their training, and helping them to raise their game from a young age. He also believes the importance of integrating sport science into training regimens has so far been lacking in Malta.
Zammit stresses the importance of better alignment between different stakeholders in a student-athlete’s development, noting that at a young age he often felt pulled in different directions by his different coaches and teachers. “There were a lot of different voices saying different things, and it was difficult for me to know how I was doing,” he says. “So it’s very important to have everyone working together for the athlete’s benefit.”
He adds that more can be done on a national level to help students pursue their sport at the highest level without having to miss out on lessons and exams.
Finally, Zammit mentions the important role that parents have to play in supporting their children’s journeys. “My mother and father were always there for me,” he says. “They never stopped me from going to training because of my studies, but would always encourage me to pursue both. And when I’d come from training upset or tired, they’d sit down, listen and acknowledge what had happened. They’d encourage me to recognise the good and bad and continue down the path I had chosen.”
The Mediterranean College of Sport is set to be one of the most pioneering educational and sporting facilities in the Maltese islands, aiming to develop future athletes of international calibre. The co-educational college is set to open its doors to students in September 2024 and will be housed adjacent to St Aloysius College in Birkirkara. For further information please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .