Malta FA president Bjorn Vassallo announced that he would be standing for re-election to the post of president during the Malta FA General Assembly which will be held in March. He was addressing the General Assembly which was held at the Centenary Hall on Tuesday.
Vassallo said that when he was elected to the post four years ago, he had always spoken about a strategy divided in two – one for the short term and another for the long term.
Photo courtesy of domenic aquilina
“When I was elected, I always talked about a strategy divided into two, one for the short term that covers the first mandate and another with its continuation with long-term projects and then rather than the administrative, regulatory or governance, the idea is to enter into a number of initiatives that will strengthen our position in a qualitative way in the technical project through a reform in the nursery sector, to incentivise the Premier League at the commercial level through the semi-privatisation, to look at more technological assistance to assist the game played, to give a new experience to our fans and financial and sustainable viability through the construction of a new stadium instead of the one we have, that although we will keep it in good shape, it is no longer functional for today’s needs; and above all to start not only participating but also winning what we believe we can achieve on a competitive level both with our national teams and also on a club level in the international sphere.”
The Malta FA President spoke about the work the association did over this first term and the challenges faced.
“In these 4 years we have launched intensive work on a number of aspects. We were able to take this path because we set a strategic programme and then we had a number of projects in front of us that during this mandate gave us the automatic direction on what we wanted to invest our time, resources and money. It is important to understand, because sometimes we tend to forget, that this was not done so that the MFA in Ta’ Qali would grow in isolation, but was done with bilateral collaboration through discussion and dialogue, where the member clubs and member associations were an active from beginning to end and if we improved, which I personally feel we did, we did it together.”
“Everything that this administration has done and has yet to do, was exactly what you voted for, so the implementation was nothing but what we agreed on in our internal structures.”
“Today’s MFA operates on that matter which we have decided is good for Maltese and Gozitan football. I still believe that, that what has been done and what is still being done and must be done, is precisely what will give us a framework of solidity and sustainability in everything that we are building in the model of how football is run in our country.”
“We have made radical changes. Circumstances that had been with us for decades, are inherited from one president to another and I even have to admit that some of them were not very popular and that I lost some of the relationship I had with some, but this is not about me personally, but about the need that the system had, so much to safeguard and simplify football operations at every level, both in terms of administration, as well as as clubs and also at the recreational and social responsibility level.”
“When you consider how many projects and reforms we have managed to deliver, how many opportunities we have created for you, how much we have assisted financially and how much enthusiasm we have seen on your part towards our work… I must say that these 4 years that have passed for me in leadership, and also for the other officials, we consider this mandate that comes to an end in less than 6 more months as a very positive one and that has shown us practices and has given us a different perspective of how the approach to the game should be in -future. There is still room to strengthen and improve… yes there is a lot left, but we have taken the course and we are satisfied with what we have managed to finalize.”
With regards to criticism related to the national team, Vassallo said “Perhaps the expectation grew automatically because it is true that in the last three years we have seen many positive, offensive games and we have created a football identity to which our players have responded well. But when you consider that this project has only been started for 3 years, then one must necessarily limit oneself in the way of expressing a certain disappointment when things do not go as expected.”
“And what was expected from this difficult group that the national team climbed into? It was expected that we would see in our country big teams like England, Italy and Ukraine, it was expected that people would attend with all their heart and create beautiful sporting events as we did, that we would go and play in front of large crowds, that we would feel the emotion when we step into the temple of Wembley, from a technical point of view, it was expected that the national team prepare fully and perform well and that above all our coaches and players gain experience from these matches that it should take place in the new year when the opponents are more on our level and where the Maltese national team can express its potential without pressure.”
“We were definitely not expecting that after 3 years since the technical project started, we were going to do what Iceland, Finland and Luxembourg did 20 years before us, by entering the national education system, by reforming the their nurseries, exported talent, strengthened player welfare, worked on a different corporate model and a list of innovations for their football that today proved them right on the pitch. These are the same objectives that we set in 2019 and which are being implemented and some of which will still find their place in the new strategic document which will cover from the year 2025 until the end of the new mandate.”
“Therefore my message is one and clear… let us continue to collaborate together, you are the strength of this ecosystem, which during the last years has reached important achievements and we continue to let the strategic objectives guide us to develop more and more our game from the grassroots to the elite level. We need to be patient and resilient. In football, when your opponent has more quality than you, they will beat you, so we do not pretend that by getting stuck we will solve the gap in level, we will only solve it if we continue to work with humility and follow the professionals who are leading us.”
“In women’s football, we are currently performing well and getting good results. Right now our women are playing another qualifying match in Andorra. They didn’t get here by chance, they got there because they are playing against opponents of the same abilities and because we possess the quality and because they are working fully under professional direction. The most beautiful aspect remains what you win at the competitive level because that’s why we compete, but we don’t want to forget that the biggest investment must continue at grassroots level, in the pathway that leads our young people to grow into players for future.”
“I also want to point out that thanks to the central government and to those who legislate in our country, in recent years a number of aids have arrived, both in the form of financial subsidies, various incentives and even investments in the infrastructure in Ta’ Qali and in the centres operated by our clubs and this arrived because when we showed the numbers, the figures, the social return, the visibility and the unity and the motivation to continue growing, football was given confidence which he deserves.”
“And as I mentioned the trust, I also as President who is at the end of the legislature in the management of the MFA, I will be coming before you next March to ask for your trust again and support so that what we started together in 2019 we will continue to give it continuity until the year 2028. Therefore tonight I am announcing, right here in our home of football, that I will contest again for a new mandate of 4 years in the position of President of MFA during the elections in the General Assembly which will be held next March 15.”