Mediterranean College of Sport chief executive Charlo Bonnici explains how a student-centred approach will give talented student-athletes the best opportunity to excel.
When the Mediterranean College of Sport opens its doors, it will offer an unparalleled learning experience with state-of-the-art facilities and top-level academic and sporting staff. But, as chief executive Charlo Bonnici explains, the true core will always be its students, their wellbeing and the opportunities for them to unlock their full potential.
“We aim to be a school of excellence cultivating a dual career pathway for students who have a high potential for development in football, athletics, swimming and waterpolo, while succeeding in their academic studies as well,” Bonnici says. “Our students will be at the heart of everything we do. We expect the highest standards of and for them. But most of all we want them to be happy.”
Bonnici defines the school’s core values as four-fold: being ambitious and passionate, being resilient and tenacious, placing the team over the self, and being creative and holistic. “Ultimately, MCS aims to understand the needs of each individual learner, value their distinct qualities and help them grow and develop into happy and confident well-rounded successful graduates,” he explains.
Work on the concept for the school has been ongoing for more than two years, in which time, some of the best brains in the academic and sporting fields have been brought on board to help shape its vision. Construction on a new 25-metre pool, football ground and sports science and research centre is expected to begin soon, alongside extensive refurbishment of existing facilities such as the sport pavilion and gym.
All this work is intended to create the ideal environment for the school’s target students, talented athletes aged 11 to 18 who have shown high potential for future development in their sport and a commitment to their academic studies. “We will look for students who have a positive and enthusiastic attitude to support their personal development: student-athletes who manifest a desire to succeed through self-confidence, grit and resilience in both sport and academia,” Bonnici says.
Nurturing a dual career is the fundamental core of the project, developing elite athletes while keeping them in education to ensure they do not have to make a choice when they are 16 or 18. “The focus must be on the individual: not the sport or the education,” Bonnici explains. “Our goal is to marry the education and sporting systems together without compromising on either. This is not an easy process, but one with long-term benefits: we firmly believe it is possible to do both sport and academia and to do both well.”
To achieve this, the college has designed a student-centric curriculum and schedule with several support processes to help the student-athlete manage a dual career pathway successfully while avoiding anxiety, stress and mental exhaustion. This approach will deliver a finely balanced mix of high-quality sports training, sports science and data analysis, complementing training and performance at club and national team level. This will run in parallel with a comprehensive educational journey featuring a balanced curriculum of academic studies following the SEC syllabus.
“Learning will be at the heart of what we do. Our competent and dedicated teachers and coaches will deliver lessons and sports sessions that are vibrant and that enable students to be creative, critical thinkers, problem-solving leaders and who have the confidence to work independently in the face of unfamiliar challenges,” Bonnici says.
“Our strength will be our size, being large enough to offer a wide yet diverse curriculum and small enough to focus and support our students in academic studies, sports development and future progression in a dual career life. We aim to provide our students with the tailored support and guidance in their studies and sports allowing them to succeed at the highest levels.”
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 .