The Minister for Sport, the Hon Steven Linares has said he is extremely pleased with the success of both the Summer Sports and Stay and Play programmes.

Yesterday saw the Stay and Play extravaganza and, whilst it was a very emotional morning, the professionalism of those that run the programme on a daily basis throughout the summer months cannot be underestimated. The programme organised and provided by the Gibraltar Sport and Leisure Authority’s Sports Development Unit (SDU) has experienced its best ever summer with the highest number of participants recorded since its inception.

“It must be recalled that in 2015 our GSLP/liberal Government contracted a purpose-built centre specifically for the stay and play programme. This has meant that many more children have been enrolled to participate, something that is great to see.

“These extra numbers exposed certain challenges but these were addressed with the invaluable assistance of the Care Agency and Meddoc who provided the extra carers and trained professionals to meet the required ratios.

“My sincere gratitude to all involved including leaders, volunteers, graduate scheme employees and any others who have contributed. A special mention must also go to the Ministry for Equality who provide the specialist training to all professionals in the field.

“Discussions with parents, GSLA management and the Care Agency have identified the fact that we need to bridge the gap between now and the start of the school year and we are already considering options to achieve this. The success of the programme is such that it is growing year on year and this is just another facet of its development. I am committed to ensuring that this will be tackled for next year’s programme.

“Although the Stay and Play programme had its show piece event yesterday the Summer Sports Programme finished last Friday with its now traditional Water Day.

“The Summer Sports Programme is another example of a well-oiled machine. It has become an important part of Gibraltar’s summer and it too continues to develop with record attendances again this year. The GSLA’s SDU and their team of leaders and volunteers have provided the community with an excellently delivered programme of activities for children of all abilities. They have embraced the excitement that is being created by the hosting of next year’s Island Games and passed that on to those attending. The water day was just one example of the diversity of the programme. This is only possible with the involvement of several Government Departments and the participation of many voluntary sporting and leisure associations. My sincere thanks to all.

“Finally, we cannot forget our partner NatWest International who have been sponsoring the programme for over 15 years. The fact that they continue to support the GSLA is a testament to the importance they feel the programmes have within the local community. A massive thanks to them!”