First Division side St. Patrick presented their new signings during a press conference which was held at the Cerviola Hotel, Marsascala on Friday.
The Saints secured the services of Albanian duo Blendi Gockaj and Blerim Hysi, Andreas Galea from Birkirkara, Evair Grech from Balzan Youths, Malcolm Vella from Hibernians and Daniel Bonnici from Hamrun Spartans.
St. Patrick president Dr Josie Muscat said the club had managed to secure promotion from Division 2 thanks to the hard work of the committee, then led by Joe Vella Bonnici, and coach Alfred Attard.
Dr Muscat said that the club wanted to lay the foundations with young players from the nursery rather than buying established ones. In this way, when the club would be ready to fight for promotion, the players would have been playing together for a long time.
He went to say that the club wanted to give due importance to the nursery who currently provides three players to the Under-19 national team and another one to the Malta Under-17 side. Over two hundred boys and girls, aged four to seventeen, are currently attending the nursery which holds an A Licence. Dr Muscat said that the club hopes to have more girls attending the nursery as it hopes to having a girls’ team in the near future.
St. Patrick will be celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2012. An organising committee led by Alfred Portelli is currently working on a number of activities which will involve former players and former committee members who served the club throughout the years. The events and activities include an exhibition about the history of the club and a book marking hundred years of football in Zabbar.
A magazine will be distributed in Zabbar households highlighting what the committee plans to do in 2012. A radio programme is broadcast monthly on Radio Hompesch.
Over the past months, the committee worked on the setting-up of the Supporters Club and increase the number of members. The chairman of the Supporters Club is Quinton Scerri.
Dr Muscat said his objective is to unite all Zabbar organisations behind the team and appealed for more support at the stadium.
The St. Patrick president said the club aimed at improving its facilities and plans to build a stand at the football ground in Zabbar. Dressing rooms and other offices will be built underneath the stand. The club also plans to build a gym, premises for the nursery and a hall. A temporary gym will be set-up shortly.
Dr Muscat concluded by thanking the sponsors, namely St. James Hospital, BCL Brian Construction Limited, The Wholesaler – BEL Group, KHS – Kenneth Hardware Store, Cerviola Hotel, Map Trans Limited and Red Map, B4 Group and kit sponsors Sportsmania who supply the Sportika kits.
Coach Alfred Attard said this season was a continuation of what had started in season 2009/10. After being relegated to Division 2 at the end of that season, the club planned to make use of its products and adopted a three-year plan.
Attard stressed that it was of utmost importance for the club to continue basing its foundations on young players as the club would bear fruit in future.
Alfred Attard thanked the rest of the technical staff, namely assistant coach and Under-19 coach Robert Cassar, kit-manager Joe Buhagiar and physiotherapist Stephen Zrinzo. Attard also thanked PRO Quinton Scerri.
The St. Patrick coach said coaching a team based on young players was no easy task but last year, these players managed to reach an unexpected target – promotion to Division 1.
Attard revealed that 85% of the squad were nursery products and said that he is following closely the Under-17 side who is currently playing in Section A.
Alfred Attard concluded by stating that the future is bright for the club and said he is proud to be part of this group. He said this group of players deserved more support and enthusiasm as they worked hard. With more support, they could achieve more.
Meanwhile vice-president Joe Vella Bonnici said he was proud that the committee had managed to attract Dr Josie Muscat to the club. He thanked Dr Muscat for accepting to join St. Patrick as president and said that he is glad that the club is starting to bear the fruit of the work the committee had started.