The 2011 Futsal Festival for schools came to a climax at the Cottonera Sports Complex with the Phase Three matches between Monday the 9th and Friday the 13th May.
As was anticipated this festival, held on an annual basis, was another successful venture which attracted numerous participants, boys and girls, from those born in 2001 to those born in 1996. This was a wide cross-section of young players comprising pupils in years 5 and 6 in the primary schools sector and going up to students in Form 4 of the secondary schools.
The first phase saw all the school children forming a multitude of teams and playing on a class basis until the most promising participants were selected to form teams representing schools.
The second phase was on an inter-school basis. Here the most promising participants were selected to form teams representing colleges. This sifting ensured that playing skills reached higher levels since the performers were of better quality as the event progressed.
The final round was bound to produce the best football, with keen tussles being anticipated at the well-laid out complex in Cottonera. No doubt, it was a successful finale.
The organisers know that such festivals constitute a medium through which young talent can be detected and eventually nursed and developed into good quality footballers both for the five-a-side game and the more conventional 11-a-side football in our country.
However, the underlying elements in such festivals are fun and fair play and this helped the children enjoy the event as they had no pressure brought about by the ‘win’ mentality.
The Malta FA is at the forefront in promoting events of this nature and it is invariably helped by the education authorities, the Kunsill Malti ghall-Isport’s Sports Promotion Unit (KMS-SPU) and the sponsors of such festivals. It is through these events that youngsters can have their skills honed and eventually encouraged to take up the game at higher levels.
MFA officials from the technical sector were in attendance with a view to picking talented footballers. The chairman of the Kunsill Malti g?all-Isport, Bernard Vassallo, was also present and at the end of the festival addressed the young participants. He said that events of this sort imbue in the children a sense of fun and satisfaction and the KMS fully endorses such festivals .
MFA technical director, Robert Gatt, had words of encouragement for the youngsters, stressing that activities of this nature were a tool for them to have fun, free from the shackles of competition but always disposed to carry the flag of fair play. He said that the MFA is a medium in providing football equipment to schools, thus helping to further promote the game among youngsters.
The week-long activity sponsored by Teamsport (providing t-shirts and some equipment) and General Soft Drinks (providing bottled water) certainly attracted a lot of interest from several schools. A novelty this year was that all participating schools, rather than just the winners, were presented with football equipment.
In order to encourage the spirit of camaraderie and fair play the MFA, as usual, awarded the Best Support and Fair Play Prizes to all the top participating teams representing primary schools/colleges. As for support, the young spectators present were able to participate in the enjoyment which was so conspicuous on the field of play. At the same time the backing they gave to their schools helped them generate a sense of passionate support for their country in future years.
The schools, on their part, were also appreciative of the association’s support when providing them with the football playing equipment.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA