Malta international goalkeeper Justin Haber launched the Justin Haber Academy – an academy open to all children in Malta and Gozo which will start operating in September. The launching was held during a press conference which was held at the Corinthia Palace Hotel, Attard on Tuesday.
Thanks to an agreement with English Premier League club Sunderland AFC, the Academy will be run based on the same training methods and programmes as the renowned Sunderland Academy. The club will not only provide professional coaches for the Academy, but also scholarships for promising young players.
The main objective of the Academy is to give Maltese players the opportunity to make it abroad. In this regard, the Justin Haber Academy will ensure that these players are trained and brought-up in a professional atmosphere, giving them the very best chance to achieve and succeed in a competitive international environment.
Haber said that although a small country, passion for football is very strong and there is a lot of talent and potential. The fact that youngsters are not brought up the right way, they are found lacking and the Academy wants to address this problem.
The Malta international goalkeeper said that the main objective of the Academy, which is being supported by the Malta Football Association, the government and the opposition, is to provide professional coaching and a professional environment to young players. With its holistic approach, the Academy will also prepare youngsters for life outside football.
Applications are now open for children aged 6 to 17. He said that in September, coaches from Sunderland will select fifty youngsters and at the end of the season, a number of children will be going abroad, not for just a one or two week trial but for one year. Justin Haber said that unfortunately, several children who go for short trials are unable to give their very best due to several constraints including the time to adapt to a new environment, language problems, etc.
Training sessions will be held in Floriana – the premises consisting of two football grounds, dressing rooms and an open-air gym – between Mondays and Saturdays. The programme consists of forty sessions over eight months and will also include units about psychology, science, co-ordination, nutrition, etc.
Haber also revealed that the Academy will work closely with Puttinu Cares and part of the fee will go directly to the organisation. The payment of the fee also gives the child and members of the family various benefits including discounts from various outlets and an insurance.
Justin Haber concluded by saying that he was investing in order to give children opportunities he did not have as a child.
One could apply through the Justin Haber Academy’s website www.justinhaberacademy.com or by visiting one of the Eurosport outlets.
Sunderland AFC Marketing Director Mike Farnan said the club wanted to support Justin in this initiative as they were impressed by his commitment and determination. Farnan said that after five years – he had earlier served as Group Executive Director of Sheffield United, he knows what the culture in Malta is all about. He said that everyone is aware that not all children will become professionals but this project is about creating opportunities.
Other speakers were Sunderland Academy Manager Ged McNamee together with Vibe FM Executive Director Terry Farrugia and John Gatt from Eurosport – two sponsors of the Justin Haber Academy.