A team made up of a number of students who have just finished Form 5 at the National Sports School will gave the opportunity to attend a five-day training camp in England where they will also have the opportunity to play three friendly matches. During these matches, a number of scouts will be attending to monitor the Maltese players.
This training camp was made possible thanks to the collaboration between the Malta Football Players Association and the National Sports School which was announced on Monday.
NSS Head of School Robert Magro said that one of his objectives was that of supporting students in the best manner and after organising successful training camps abroad for waterpolo, football and tennis students, this training camp for Form 5 students who have just finished their SEC exams will give them the opportunity to train and play against top academies
Magro added that the NSS had already reached an agreement with the University thanks to which Junior College students could apply for a scheme where their time-table would be from 10:00 to 17:00 in order to accommodate them with regards to training. He stressed that it was of utmost importance for students to maintain a good academic level, adding that throughout these years, the school has always maintained high standards.
The NSS Head of School concluded by thanking Carlo Mamo and the MFPA for financing the bulk of the expenses covering this training camp.
MFPA General Secretary Carlo Mamo said that initially the association was thinking about creating an MFPA Academy but after considering the fact that they would be replicating the work being done at the NSS, it made more sense collaborating with the school.
Mamo said it was not easy to have young players under the age of eighteen move abroad due to a number of restrictions on registrations but there were exemptions such as having young players continuing their studies abroad while joining an academy. He added that two friendly matches were scheduled at first – one against Leeds and another against Walton academy in London which has facilities of a very high level. The idea behind this was reach out to scouts from all parts of England. Eventually, a third friendly match was agreed with Sheffield United. Mamo added that through this training camp and friendly matches would give the Maltese the chance to gauge their level with teams coming from different levels of football.
The MFPA hopes players would then be offered trials and eventually scholarships where they could continue their studies while playing for English clubs.
Carlo Mamo added that the MFPA hopes this training camp will not be a one-off. He said FIFPro was funding this pilot-project.
Paul Zammit – football coach at the National Sports School – went into some detail explaining the programme the team will be following in England between July 9 and 13 and highlighted the importance of such training camps for a better understanding of the student-athlete lifestyle.
Zammit said that although it was easy for many to say that young players should move abroad, he said that in practice, it was not easy, considering the several factors such as contracts, compensation fees, etc. He said this training camp will give the students an experience of how to live the life of a footballer – the professional life they dream of. They also have the opportunity to be scouted during these friendly matches.
Paul Zammit said the National Sports School prepares students to go abroad. Together with Stefan Sultana, they give their best to prepare them to achieve these objectives.
Throughout this training camp, the players will be staying together at a hotel, have four training sessions in Derby and play the friendly matches against Leeds, Walton and Sheffield United. In view of this training camp, the team played three friendly matches.
Zammit concluded by saying “To make it, you need a lot of sacrifices. We are sure we will learn a lot from this experience. Hopefully this would be an annual event.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisation Dr Clifton Grima thanked the Head of School and its staff for their work. Referring to the coaches Paul Zammit and Stefan Sultana and MFPA general secretary Carlo Mamo, Dr Grima said that they had exemplary behaviour both on and off the field of play and this was key to achieve success. He said that students were being given the tools and that it was now up to them to take these opportunities to improve.
Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo added that six years ago, the government wanted the National Sports School to have its own premises and facilities and it will continue to invest in the school.
Bartolo added that the government is committed to giving more importance to sports in schools in primary, middle and secondary schools and will be launching a number of initiatives in the coming weeks.
The Minister for Education and Employment concluded by saying that youngsters should be made aware of the sacrifices needed but stressed that they have to believe in themselves and work hard as success is the result of hard work.