Manchester United Women will be visiting Malta for a training camp between January 3 and 8 and playing a friendly match against Women’s League champions Birkirkara on January 6 at the Tony Bezzina Stadium. Details were revealed during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel & Spa, St. Julian’s on Friday.
Helmut Amhof, representative of FIFA Match Agent Johannes Empl and his company SLFC, said Manchester United Women were one of the top teams in England and their visit was a huge honour for the organisers. He added that one of the clear signs that women’s football is growing is the fact that the last game between Manchester United and Manchester City attracted 41,900 spectators.
Although United Women will be training at the MFA Training Grounds, the match against Birkirkara which should be the main highlight will be played on January 6 at the Tony Bezzina Stadium, kick-off at 18:00. Entrance will be for free but one would need to obtain tickets – details regarding which will be released shortly.
Helmut Amhof added that apart from supporting this training camp, the Malta Tourism Authority is also supporting the Tipsport Malta Cup and the VisitMalta Women’s Friendlies.
The Tipsport Malta Cup 2023, which has now reached its fifth edition, will see an increase in the number of teams taking part from four to six. The participating clubs are FC Slovan Liberec and FC Trinity Zlin from the Czech Republic, FC Spartak Trnava and AS Trencin from Slovakia, WSG Tirol from Austria and SV Sandhausen from the 2. Bundesliga in Germany. The teams will be training in Malta between January 9 and 21.
Matches will be played on Wednesday 11 at the National Stadium, Saturday 14 at the Tony Bezzina Stadium, Tuesday 17 at the National Stadium with the finals scheduled for Thursday 19 at the National Stadium and the Tony Bezzina Stadium. These will be broadcast live in the four countries and around 50 media representatives are expected to cover these games, therefore giving huge exposure to Malta apart from the fact that they would be producing around 5,000 to 6,000 bed nights.
Building on the annual VisitMalta Women’s Tournament, a number of friendly matches between women’s national teams, including teams who have qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023. The VisitMalta Women’s International Friendlies will be played between February 13 and 22.
Malta Tourism Authority Chief Executive Officer Carlo Micallef said that after the MTA had identified an opportunity to organise training camps and friendly matches, Malta is now in a position to organise such training camps on a regular basis. Micallef said such training camps improve tourism in the winter months both in terms of visibility and the amount of bed nights. He added that apart from football, the MTA is also focussed on other sports including cycling, athletics and waterpolo.
Micallef said that the work to give international visibility to our country and the VisitMalta brand is an aspect that is constantly being worked on. He added that Manchester United were a prestigious brand and the MTA, as global official partner, has been working in England, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia in order to promote the Maltese islands.
The MTA CEO added that there are also spin-offs from such training camps, friendly matches and tournaments as it was the case with Swarovski Tirol who has been sporting the VisitMalta logo on their shirt.
Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo said that sports tourism was an important niche as it not only generated a large number of bed nights but worked great in terms of marketing. He mentioned the fact that the visit by Inter earlier this month saw the matches being broadcast in over 190 countries with millions of people following their visit on social media.
Bartolo added that the arrival of Manchester United Women in Malta was not only a great opportunity for Birkirkara players who will be facing one of the top clubs in England but also an opportunity for those who will be receiving mentoring sessions from Manchester United players.
The Minister for Tourism concluded by saying that success in tourism was thanks to the hard work of MTA in building such niches, adding that similar initiatives are in the pipeline to help raise profile of Malta as a destination of excellence for sport tourism.