The FIFA Live Your Goals campaign meant to encourage more girls to play football was launched on Monday during a press conference at the Centenary Hall, Ta’ Qali.
MFA Senior Vice-President Ludovico Micallef said that the first women’s teams were established in the sixties but it was only in the following decade that the first women’s competitions were organised by the Ministry for Sports in the late seventies, there were several teams taking part.
The Malta Football Association took over the organisation of women’s football in 1995 and in order to promote the game more with girls, the Under-16 League was launched five years ago. He said that now this project will be targeting girls under the age of eleven.
MFA Technical Director Robert Gatt said the Technical Centre was committed to strengthening women’s football and a FIFA Instructor was brought to Malta to lead a coaching course. The national team is in a rejuvination process thanks to which the best elements from the Under-19 will be moving to the senior team.
Gatt said that there is currently a group of fifty girls aged ten to fifteen at the Academy and this group should provide, in a year’s time, the players for the Under-17 national team who will take part for the first time in the UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship.
MFA Deputy General Secretary (Grassroots, Youth Development & Education) Maria Mifsud said the FIFA Live Your Goals project was launched in the 2011 Women’s World Cup and following the success of this project, several associations wanted to join this campaign.
Mifsud said that two years ago, the MFA had organised a Get a Friend Festival in order to encourage more girls to play football. As part of this campaign, there will be free open day festivals on December 27 and April 4.
Ten teams from nine clubs will be taking part in the Girls Under-11 Festivals. These will be held at the UEFA mini-pitch in Pembroke.
National team players and Academy coaches Dorianne Theuma and Charlene Zammit will be the ambassadors of the FIFA Live Your Goals campaign.
National coach Pierre Brincat said that when the national team was first set-up, it was difficult to find eighteen players. However since than thanks to hard work, more girls are playing football. He spoke of the importance of believing in youngsters and appealed for more support from the Youth FA and nurseries in order to make it easier for girls to start playing football.
Brincat said that at the MFA Academy, there is a group of 28 girls, born 2000 and 2001, led by coach Dorianne Theuma and her assistant Charlene Zammit and another group, born 2002 and 2003, led by coach Dionne Tonna and her assistant Kathleen Saliba. He said that the Under-16s did well in a recent UEFA tournament and now Malta will be hosting an Easter tournament for these youngsters.
While appealing for more help from nurseries and for more organised teams who also cater for the young players who are coming up, the women’s national team coach insisted future is bright for the game.