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Another Iceland? Malta Launches Ambitious Plan To Turn Young Footballers Into Elite Players 

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Achieving Iceland-style footballing success may seem like a faraway dream for Maltese fans, but the Malta Football Association has just announced a plan to train young, promising footballers into elite players.

“The strengthening of our national teams at all levels remains the foremost priority for the Association,” the MFA said in its first ever strategy document for the next four years of Maltese football.

“For this to happen, we need to invest in development. Our national teams will embrace and reflect a unified footballing philosophy that gives us an identity based on the characteristics of our players.”

“We must work in unison towards a common objective – build from the bottom, be patient and sustain this work with all the resources at our disposal so that the legacy of this strategy will be to see our national teams become consistently competitive.”

This means that the head coach of the Malta national football team, currently Devis Mangia, will be responsible for ensuring all youth Maltese national teams follow the same game philosophy, therefore ensuring they won’t need to re-adapt to a new system every time they’re promoted.

However, it also means the MFA will take an active role in ensuring more teenage Maltese players end up playing professionally overseas.

It will therefore set up a “football hub” specifically focusing on youth development and exporting players abroad, which will also include the introduction of other complimentary sport disciplines at a young age.

A short-to-long-term development programme will also be set up to deliver the right technical, tactical, physical and mental skills to young players from a very young age. This programme will be communicated to the players’ clubs and their progress would be monitored by the MFA.

The MFA will also establish contact overseas to facilitate players’ moves abroad and coordinate regular meetings between players’ parents and professionals, who will offer them education on the development of young athletes from a nutritional and psychological perspective.

Meanwhile, the MFA will expand its scouting network to ensure that Maltese players featuring in foreign leagues are being adequately followed by its coaching staff and beef up its medical support for injured, recovering and developing athletes through its centralised medical clinic.

More international friendlies will be organised so as to allow Maltese players to test their abilities at a higher level than that which is available locally.

“The vision of the Malta FA is to further strengthen its investment to build a stronger foundation, aiming at long-term development and the sustainability of Maltese football across all levels, from community, grassroots, amateurs, women and youths all the way to the elite, clubs and national team selections,” MFA president Bjorn Vassallo said.

“We can only attain these objectives if, together, we adopt a holistic approach and plan strategically for the future. For the first time in its 120 years of existence, the Malta FA is presenting a strategic document centred around our core mission… football and its development. “

“Although the Malta FA is launching this strategy during a very challenging period, we are all motivated to implement its delivery.”

What do you make of this plan?

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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