MFA President says association wants to provide national team with best possible preparation

MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud warned that following the recent changes in the national team training schedule, the association is not ready to make further changes as it was committed to provide the team with the best possible preparation. 
Addressing a press conference on Monday, the MFA president said that twenty-five years ago, the association felt that something had to be done so that the national team could participate with honour in its international commitments. The professional scheme was therefore set-up.
Dr Mifsud said that in recent weeks, a number of clubs demanded changes to this professional scheme in order to have the players at their disposal more times a week.
He said that unlike other countries, the Malta Football Association is not only in charge of the national team and runs just one competition but runs all domestic competitions. It is therefore of utmost importance to find the right balance.
For the national team to take part in international competitions, the team has to be well prepared. The professional scheme which was set-up in the eighties was suspended for a few weeks in 1996 and according to Dr Mifsud, the team continued to suffer the consequences of this for a number of years.
He said that nowadays, the national team has a Maltese coach who will soon start the UEFA Pro License course together with dedicated qualified medical and technical staff. The main target is therefore to have all national teams starting from the senior side to the youth teams competing with honour in all international commitments.
The scheme has now been modified but the association has to ensure that the national team is well-prepared.
The MFA president said the national team is part of the football system in Malta and players are obliged to play for the national team. He emphasised that those who stop players from answering national team call-ups may face disciplinary action.
“For every player, the objective should be that of representing his club both at domestic and international level but also that of representing the national team. I hope that there will be no need to take disciplinary action against those who stop players from joining the national team,” stressed Dr Mifsud. 
Dr Mifsud said that the national coaches understand the needs of local clubs’ coaches having themselves coached at club level. 
A meeting was held between the presidents and clubs of four Premier League clubs, the national coach, the MFA president and national team manager Ivan Vella. Following a proposal by one of the clubs, the association accepted to change the training schedule so that now national team players train with the national team on Monday mornings, Tuesday mornings and afternoons, and Wednesday mornings. This means that players could attend an extra two sessions each week with their clubs since before they used to have two daily sessions with the national team on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 
Special arrangements will take place in the last two weeks before a national team game.
The MFA president said it was the duty of the association to provide national coaches with the best means and facilities possible. He said that this was of utmost importance for the level of the game to improve. Without international participation, the level of the game would be even lower, he said.
Dr Mifsud said that at club level in European competitions, Malta hit a record low 52nd place out of 53 countries, lying just one place ahead of Andorra, meaning that next season Malta will only be represented by three teams in UEFA club competitions.
The MFA president said that three of the clubs who met the association over this issue accepted the new proposal and only Valletta refused. He revealed that Valletta players were told not to attend last Wednesday’s morning training session with the national team although they had no other training commitments with the club. Dr Mifsud stressed that the association will not tolerate such behaviour and that as long as any club wishes to take part in its competitions, it has to abide by its regulations.