Italian coaches in Malta to lead instructional meetings, assess local youngsters

Six Italian coaches are currently in Malta as part of the MFA’s drive to present local coaches and their staff with technical instructional meetings to improve the level of coaches and the local game in general.

These instructional meetings for UEFA ‘A’ licensed coaches, goalkeepers’ coaches and football physical trainers form part of the Malta Football Week which also coincides with the UEFA Grassroots Day which will be celebrated on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, MFA Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Vassallo said that among the reforms being undertaken by the association, the MFA through its Technical Centre wanted to provide the direction to create the basis for the future. He said for such reforms to take place, all stakeholders had to be involved and hopefully this would reap fruit in five or six years’ time. Changing the mentality was of utmost importance, said Vassallo.

The MFA Technical Centre invited former Messina midfielder Salvatore Sullo, formerly assistant coach of Bari;
former Bologna and Roma goalkeeper Giuseppe Zinetti, now a goalkeepers’ coach at Bari and Alessandro Innocenti, a physical trainer who worked at Cagliari, Sampdoria and Bari. Former Bari coach Giampiero Ventura was also due to attend but was unable to travel due to sickness.

Three professional youth coaches – Elio Garavaglia who forms part of the AC Milan coaching staff, Sergio Soldano of Inter and former Udinese, Napoli, Juventus and Messina midfielder Raffaele Ametrano also travelled to Malta to conduct training sessions with the academy footballers at the MFA Training Grounds in Ta’ Qali.

Bjorn Vassallo explained that these visits had three main purposes. First the association wanted to present the local reality to these coaches, showing them what Malta could offer and therefore establishing an identity for Maltese football. Secondly the local coaches get to work hand in hand with the Italian coaches and establish the level of the local youngsters in terms of skills, tactics, etc. Finally local coaches and physical trainers would get the opportunity to learn from these foreign coaches.

Vassallo stressed that the MFA is committed to investing in grassroots football as this was the key to a change in mentality which is is the way forward for local football and national teams to improve their level.

MFA Technical Director Robert Gatt said that over the past months, the Technical Centre was monitoring the work being done at the nurseries and in the coming weeks, plans to introduce a number of changes. He said the Technical Centre wanted to stay in direct contact with nurseries and offering the necessary help. Gatt revealed that the Regions System will be re-introduced with Malta being divided into three regions – North, Centre and South and Gozo being the fourth region.

The MFA Technical Director said professional coaches specialising in youth football will be visiting Malta periodically in order to work with local youngsters. Both players and coaches within nurseries will benefit from such visits.

Robert Gatt said the UEFA Grassroots Day will be celebrated on Wednesday morning at the MFA Training Grounds. Twenty-six coaches and fifteen co-ordinators will be organising this event which will provide around four hundred school children with a unique opportunity of playing at the MFA Training Grounds. The focus will be on the fun side of football as the main objective is to have children love the game. A number of national team players will be present for this event.

Salvatore Sullo explained that this visit was made possible following a meeting with the MFA CEO a few weeks ago and was impressed by the latter’s enthusiasm towards this project. Enthusiasm and believing in what one would want to achieve were key to reach particular targets.

Sullo said that the main objective always had to be that of striving to do better. To achieve this, having good facilities was not enough but one had to have ideas and resources. He said Malta was lucky to have people who are ready to dedicate themselves to this project.

The Italian coach concluded by saying that although the Malta FA considered this event as an instructional meeting for local coaches – the concept of ‘training the trainers’, for the Italian coaches who are currently in Malta, this was also a learning opportunity.