Graduation ceremony of the UEFA Pro Course and Elite Youth A coaches

As part of its relentless drive to improve the standard of coaching education in Malta, the MFA Technical Centre organises UEFA coaching courses at different levels on a regular basis.

The first UEFA Pro Coaching course organised by the MFA Technical Centre came to an end last month with all the 19 candidates successfully completing the rigorous two-year course.

Furthermore, another 12 coaches have obtained the UEFA Elite Youth A certificate after completing the seven-month course organised by the MFA Technical Centre.

The newly-qualified coaches took centre-stage on Wednesday as they were presented with their certificates during a social event organised by the Malta FA at the VVIP Lounge of the National Stadium.

Photo: Copyright © domenic aquilina

Norman Darmanin Demajo, the Malta FA President, said: “In 2012, when I was looking at ways to raise the level of our football, coach education was a pillar. The first pillar was that we badly needed to improve our infrastructure and the second one was coach education.

“I have to be honest. I never dreamt, like Stephen (Grima) did, that one day we could organise a coaching course in Malta that would surpass the level of our football, but I’ve confirmed my long-held view.

“I’m a patriotic person and I have a very high esteem of the Maltese people because, considering the size of our country and what we are capable of doing, that is something I firmly believe in.”

Darmanin Demajo said that, thanks to the excellent work of the Technical Centre, in the field of coach education, we have now advanced beyond the level of the domestic leagues and this is one of the big challenges facing the Malta FA.

Stephen Grima, the MFA Director of Coach Education, recalled one of the initial discussions he had with Frank Ludolph, UEFA’s head of football education services, about the possibility of organising the UEFA Pro Coaching Course in Malta.

Grima said Ludolph’s response was that it was extremely difficult for the Malta FA to host the UEFA PRO Course and laid out a series of initial requirements the Association had to meet for such suggestion to be even considered.

“Ludolph said it was extremely difficult for us to hold the UEFA Pro Course in Malta but he never mentioned the word impossible and that encouraged us to keep working to fulfil this dream,” Grima said.

The MFA Director of Coach Education expressed his satisfaction at the excellent results achieved by the coaches who have done both the UEFA Pro and UEFA Elite Youth A courses.

Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg

Stephen Azzopardi, the Sliema Wanderers Technical Director who is one of the 12 coaches who completed the UEFA Elite Youth A, and Ray Farrugia, the assistant coach of the national team who obtained the UEFA Pro badge, spoke about their respective experiences during the courses.

Both said the courses were very demanding but rewarding, adding that the sense of team spirit among the candidates and the guidance provided by the MFA Technical Centre were a massive plus.

Dr Angelo Chetcuti, the Malta FA General Secretary, presented the certificates to the coaches who completed the UEFA Elite Youth A, namely Stephen Azzopardi, Nicholas Baldacchino, Jose Borg, Paul Bugeja, Edwin Camilleri, Philip Joe Cauchi, Silvan Ciscaldi, Marko Glumac, Julian Mallia, Stefan Sultana and Neil Zarb Cousin. Sandro Zammit Fava was unable to attend.

Darmanin Demajo handed out the certificates to the UEFA Pro Course coaches, namely Darren Abdilla, Gilbert Agius, Wayne Attard, Brian Bartolo, Ludvic Bartolo, Mark Buttigieg, Ray Farrugia, Joe Grech, Josef Mansueto, Mark Marlow, Mark Miller, Winston Muscat, Branko Nisevic, Peter Pullicino, Jacques Scerri, Charles Sciberras, Oliver Spiteri, Noel Turner and Steven Vella.