Ten teams will be taking part in the 2018/19 Malta FA Futsal League as futsal competitions will be organised once again by the Malta Football Association after six years during which Futsal Malta Association was entrusted with the organisation of futsal competitions.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, MFA Vice-President Dr Matthew Paris said the FMA and its top officials worked hard over the past years for the level of the game to be what it is now. He said that the Malta FA now aims at laying foundations for the future.
Dr Paris said that during discussions which were held over the past months with all stakeholders, it was soon evident that there was the need of coaching courses. He said that a foundation course will be held and eventually higher level courses will follow.
The MFA Vice-President stressed on the need to focus not only on senior teams but also on development. He said that with the structure being proposed, more children should consider small-sided games.
Dr Paris said that the engagement of Vic Hermans as national coach is a statement by the association to show it needed a highly-experienced person to take the team to the next level. He said that with Hermans on board, the association hopes to create the synergy to move forward and for this reason, clubs are expected to give their support to take the game to the next level.
Hermans starts his second spell as Malta coach with two friendly matches at home against the Netherlands and then against Northern Ireland – first two fixtures at home and then two away from home. These will form part of the qualifiers for the FIFA Futsal World Cup in programme next year.
The Dutch coach, who had a first spell in Malta between 2009 and 2011 and who had earlier served as national coach of Hong Kong, Malaysia, Iran and the Netherlands, later coaching Thailand and Indonesia, also spoke about the need for a structure for coaches and added that in order to improve youth development, as from October, Futsal festivals will be held on Saturday afternoons.
Hermans added that it was of utmost importance to have a strong league and that clubs needed to work together and see what was best for the game. He asked clubs not to focus only on foreign players but also on youths and said he hoped the association will not wait for too long before applying to take part in the UEFA Under-19 Futsal EURO – the first edition of which will be held next year.
The Futsal season kicks-off on September 14 with the Futsal Super Cup between champions Valletta FC Futsal and Knock-Out winners University of Malta Students Futsal Team.
The Futsal League will kick-off in the first week of October. Dr Paris explained that the format for this year, which will be a year of transition, will be quite similar to that of last season.
Ten teams are taking part – eight of which are affiliated to six member clubs, namely Birkirkara FC Futsal (formerly Mriehel ESS), Luxol St. Andrews FC Futsal, Luxol St. Andrews FC Futsal Under-19, Pietà Hotspurs FC Futsal, Swieqi United FC Futsal, Swieqi United FC Futsal Under-21, Tarxien Rainbows FC Futsal and Valletta FC Futsal. The other two teams are University of Malta Students Futsal Team and UM Futsal Academy.
The ten teams will be playing on a one-round league basis. The top six teams will then play in the Elite Futsal League and the bottom four in the Futsal League. These two leagues will be played on a two-round basis.
The top two teams in the Elite Futsal League will take in the Championship Play-Offs – best out of five. The bottom two teams in the Elite Futsal League and the top two teams in the Futsal League will take part in a tournament to determine who would play in the Elite Futsal League the following season.
In the Knock-Out Competition, the four teams in the Futsal League will take part in the Preliminary Round with the winners joining the six Elite Futsal League teams in the quarter-finals.
Matches will be played as follows: one on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Thursday and two on Friday. These will be played mainly at the Corradino Pavilion although the use of another venue is not being ruled out.
The draws for Match Day 1 were as follows:
Swieqi United vs Pieta Hotspurs
Luxol St. Andrews vs Birkirkara
Tarxien Rainbows vs Luxol Under-19
Valletta vs Swieqi United Under-21
UM Futsal Academy vs University of Malta Students