CARLO FARRUGIA: GOING FOR THE GOLD
SWAG got to know a little bit about 55-year old CARLO FARRUGIA, who’s currently the Company Secretary and Compliance Officer at Mapfre Middlesea. His career began in finance and translation, but Carlo’s interests have taken him down plenty of interesting paths.
A sport lover and Olympic enthusiast, Carlo is a committee member of the International Olympic Academy Participants Association (IOAPA). This has provided him with many opportunities to travel abroad and volunteer, in one way or another, in multiple Olympic games over the years.
He also coached the national female basketball team for over 15 years, which culminated in a number of successful wins, including winning the first ever gold medal in basketball during the 2003 GSSE and the first bronze medal in female basketball during the FISEC Games.
SWAG is aware that you’ve been involved with various organisations throughout your career, from the Malta Financial Services Assosication (MFSA) to the International Olympic Academy Participants Association (IOAPA). Could you give our readers an overview of your achievements?
I’ve been involved in sports for many, many years as a player, coach, administrator and referee in basketball. I’ve won many honours as a player and coach both on a national and international level.
In 1995 I went to the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece and there I was elected in the Executive Committee of the IOAPA and returned several time to Greece and also went to other countries to disseminate the Olympic ideals and Olympic spirit.
In 2000 I also started to volunteer during Olympic Games and I’ve managed to participate in six Olympic Games as a volunteer in different countries.
In 2012, after having returned from the London 2012 Games, I was shortlisted as one of the volunteers who was chosen to be included in the newly refurbished IOC Museum in Lausanne. This was a great honour that was totally unexpected. However my greatest sporting achievement that remains with me is winning the First Basketball Gold Medal during the 2003 GSSE in front of the home crowd in Malta as National Coach.
Having said all this, all my achievements would not have been possible without the support of my wife, Marica and my two lovely daughters Francesca and Elena. I think I've managed to achieve a few successes in my life but my greatest success is having married a wonderful person and having a closely knit family.
You completed a postgraduate diploma and a Masters degree in Translation and Interpreting. What made you take up studying again?
A very long time ago when the Mediterranean Conference Centre was being refurbished in Valletta, a call was made for interpreters and this work always fascinated me. I did this type of work on an ad hoc basis, but when Malta was ready to become an EU Member State, this opened up new opportunities and so I took the first university postgraduate course in translation and interpreting, which I then upgraded to a Masters degree.
This was essential to continue my career in this very niche sector and I was really fascinated to work as an interpreter and translator on a freelance basis since each document and each conference brings with it something new, which leads to a continuous learning curve on a myriad of topics.
You also founded Malta Online Dictionary. Can you tell us what brought about its establishment and what the site has become today?
I wished to put together my two main professional areas, so I decided to work on a dictionary for financial services that would be useful to the industry. After I published the dictionary I also decided that in today’s technological age it would be more useful to have this dictionary online, so I created a website that gives users free access to the dictionary.
In fact, my website receives more than 3,000 hits per month. Over the last few years I’ve redesigned my website to offer translation and interpreting services but keeping the free access to my dictionary which is used by many translators as a point of reference for financial services translations. Following this success I decided to incorporate the Malta Online Dictionary as a fully-fledged company operating in the translation and interpreting market sector.
You started your career in the financial sector, so how did the opportunity to become an IOAPA committee member come about?
I started my career at the Central Bank of Malta and made my way up the ranks during 23 years of service. Then I moved on to the MFSA when the banking regulation shifted to the MFSA and later moved to Mapfre Middlesea as Company Secretary and Compliance Officer where I have been employed for the last eight years.
The IOAPA is a voluntary sport organisation and I‘ve always looked at sport as a hobby and not as a means to earn money. I like to give my services on a voluntary basis and my experiences in running with the Olympic Torch in 2000 and being a volunteer during London 2012 in the Basketball venue were unforgettable experiences.
What is the scope of the IOAPA?
The IOAPA is a voluntary organisation with hundreds of members all over the world. We meet every two years in Olympia, with the kind contribution and hospitality of the International Olympic Academy.
Our mission is to disseminate Olympism globally – we offer highly qualified people who are well versed in different Olympic sport disciplines and themes, and we travel and organise events in different countries that ask for support. It enhances our experiences and we bring a lot of professional people closer to athletes, coaches and administrators around the world.
We’re growing as an organisation and we also hold regional events when the opportunity arises.
What has the experience been like and what opportunities has this role presented you with?
The experience of networking with peers has been excellent, but the greatest experiences have been volunteering during Olympic Games. This comes at a substantial expenses since volunteers are only provided with an official uniform and food on their shifts but each volunteer has to pay for his/her own flights, accommodation, transport and food during free days.
However the experience is outstanding and in actual fact being a volunteer is a unique experience, which I like to refer to as ‘once in a lifetime’, since each Olympic Games is an experience on its own.
I’ve been a volunteer for the Sydney 2000 games when I ran with the Olympic Torch, Athens 2004 at the accreditation centre at the airport, Torino 2006 at the VIP centre in the Ice hockey venue, Singapore Youth Games 2010 as an interpreter with the Italian and San Marino contingents, London 2012 Olympic Games in the basketball venue and London 2012 Paralympic Games in the basketball venue.
So a very wide array of experiences which are unique and which give you a steep learning curve.
On another sporting note, you’ve also coached the national female basketball team for a number of years. What was that experience like?
Coaching the national female basketball team was also a fantastic experience since some of the players came to the team as very young girls, about 12 and 14 years old, who grew in life and in the game, becoming professionals in their own right; women, mothers, wives and fantastic persons.
It was another positive experience which spanned over 15 years of my life and culminating in winning the first ever gold medal in basketball during the 2003 GSSE and the first bronze medal in female basketball during the FISEC Games.
As national coach we also managed to qualify in our own right for the first and only time to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia in 2006.
Another unforgettable experience playing against the likes of England and Australia – who were the silver Olympic medalists – as well as obtaining good results against much larger countries with a much wider basketball culture with larger practicing athletes.
Another fantastic achievement was winning all the female youth and senior categories during the same year in Malta when I coached Hibs together with the other members of the coaching staff. That was a first that has still not been equalled in the local sphere.
Are there any goals that you wish to achieve in the near future?
Time permitting I would like to pass on some of the knowledge and experience I‘ve gained over the years to basketball and the Olympic movement in Malta, as well as continue volunteering in future Olympic games. Time has become a very precious resource and experience is a very valuable tool.
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