Malta Football Association has appealed to health authorities to lower the age restriction on contact sport after its implementation forced the postponement of all youth leagues until the end of the month.
The new restrictions prohibit children under 17 from participating in contact sports, in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
This has proven highly problematic for youth football leagues, where 15% of the player base is made up of 16-year-olds.
“Clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to cope while these problems also threaten the integrity and sustainability of the competition,” the MFA said.
Lovin Malta is also informed that over 68% of the under-19 women’s league is comprised of 16-year-olds, meaning teams will be losing a large chunk of their squads as a result of the new measures.
As such, the association has suspended all youth league fixtures until the end of March.
“However, during difficult times like these, sport is very important for the health and mental well-being of the society. Such restrictions are impeding youngsters from practicing sport outdoors. It is also to be noted that this prohibition impacts a number of age-groups in the youth set-ups and also has a disruptive effect on the national team commitments,” the MFA said.
Taking into account the disruption it has caused for both clubs and the national team, the MFA has appealed to health authorities to consider lowering the restriction age from 17 to 16 while also granting exemptions to players with national team commitments.
A number of sports professionals have warned that the new measures will have a detrimental effect on young athlete’s physical and mental wellbeing across all sporting disciplines, especially when it effectively meant that some athletes had to end their season short.
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