Malta has the potential to qualify for the European Championship or World Cup, but only if player development is taken more seriously, says renowned Maltese footballer André Schembri.
Speaking to TVM show Popolin, Schembri, discussed how local clubs often jeopardise the career of young players and how Malta urgently needs to address the issue.
“Obviously the players belong to the clubs, and at the end of the day we can develop the best talent in our country, but then, a Maltese club just comes and expects thousands if not millions for a Maltese player. These clubs need to understand that, abroad, we’re irrelevant,” he said.
The most recent example of this involves Sliema Wanderers FC defender and national player Kurt Shaw, who was denied the opportunity to play for Wolfsberger FC after Sliema soured negotiations with the Austrian side.
Schembri had spoken openly about this incident, berating the toxicity of Maltese football clubs.
Shortly after the botched deal, Sliema Wanderers president Jeffery Farrguia resigned from his position.
“It’s not easy to compare Maltese football with Italian, German or English leauges, because these countries have more natural and human resources,” Schembri continued.
“But I believe that a Maltese club can achieve as much as Cypriot clubs for example, who qualify each year in the group stages of the Europa League.”
Schembri was one of Malta’s most successful football players who played across the globe in Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and ended his career in India – where he featured in the Super Cup final.
Last week, the Malta Football Association launched a new strategy aimed at elevating the standard of domestic and national football in Malta, centred around eight pillars.
“I question the strategy because I don’t know how many competent people there are in Malta to implement it,” Schembri continued. “However if you had to ask me which strategy I like the most it’s the first pillar, which I believe is very close to my heart. The first pillar is about player development and how we’re going to help Maltese players to go play abroad.”
For Schembri, the key to seeing Malta qualify for the Euro or World Cup is to export local talent into a sporting environment where they have the potential to grow – similar to his own experiences, but Malta still has hurdles of reforms to go through before it reaches that level.
“I believe that if there is a long term strategy where national players are involved, we can qualify for the Euro or World Cup. It’s not just about money, but even the set up of the club and the mentality. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
“We want players to play and if possible retire abroad,” he ended.
Tag a footballer