With talent and hunger to succeed, Malta’s most successful football exports are undoubtedly all women. On the other hand, men fail to achieve the same level of success because they are too comfortable at home.
“The situation is that boys between the ages of 16 and 18 don’t want to make the sacrifice,” Malta Football Association President Bjorn Vassallo told Lovin Malta.
“Some of the players have the talent and the level. Unfortunately, some choose to stay here in their comfort zone. Coming from Malta, we have to fight and compete with other countries, most of them are not ready to do that.”
As part of the MFA’s new four-year strategy, the association will be instituting a number of reforms and initiatives to turn Maltese football, and by extension, its players, into elite entities.
One major pillar of the strategy is youth development and taking young, promising players outside of their comfort zone so that they can flourish abroad.
“We will work hard with player welfare to try and establish channels where we can, through our contacts, position these players to find the right clubs for them to start a career. I’m confident we can do this,” Vassallo continued.
The MFA strategy stresses the importance of building from the ground up and developing a strong foundation from new infrastructure to the commercialisation of clubs and good governance.
“Maltese football hasn’t got to the level, which is professionalisation. At the end of the day, we need professionalisation and that set up needs to come from the club. The MFA gives that set up for national team selections, but clubs, unfortunately, as of yet, don’t because of budget, capacity building, infrastructure.”
According to the strategy, professional clubs will have to be a limited company by 2023, transforming into a business model that will encourage more investment into local football.
“When you professionalise the clubs, you professionalise the players, then you can work to export them abroad,” he continued.
Former Malta captain Andre Schembri, who has vast experience abroad, has been vocal about the need for local players to take their talent overseas, especially following the news that Sliema Wanderers FC defender Kurt Shaw was denied an opportunity to play for an Austrian side due to a mismanaged deal by the club.
“One of the nicest things for a club is to have one of your players represent you in one of the bigger clubs. At the end of the day, it’s a pathway,” Vassallo said.
Another core principle of the MFA strategy is developing a strong social responsibility, something the association has been actively trying to address amidst several reports of racism in the leagues.
“We have been very proactive about this, even this year. We put together an ethics and compliance committee, so all these cases go in front of them,” Vassallo continued.
“Unfortunately, football is made from people in society. The situation isn’t just a football matter, it’s a societal matter. However, football is a very strong medium and I am totally in favour to continue working on inclusivity programs.”
Last month, Raiders GFC football player Maya Lucia was subject to racist chants by Mosta FC supporters during an Under-19’s league match.
In December 2020, Paul Mbong alleged that a Senglea Athletic FC hurled racial abuse at him during a heated football match.
However, the most shocking incident involving footballers over the past few months involves footage of players from Siġġiewi FC streaming an x-rated video of a Maltese woman during a social gathering at a restaurant.
“The association cannot control every act of every person. However, if anything happens, such as was in this case, there are mechanisms that work,” Vassallo said in reference to the ethics committee.
The head coach of Siġġiewi FC has since resigned and the club committed to running an internal investigation into the matter.
“It’s positive that Siġġiewi took action and that people resigned,” Vassallo ended.
Tag a footballer