Following the abrupt end to last season due to covid-19, the Malta Netball Association has announced its starting dates for the new season. The Open (Senior) League will begin with Division One on October 18, while Division Two is to start a week later, on October 25.
With the pandemic still alive and kicking, the association said they will be “taking all precautions necessary and following all guidelines from SportMalta and the Health Authority.
“Divisions have now been separated and will play on separate alternating Sundays as opposed to what happened in previous years where we had games from different divisions in one day.
“As an Association we have also issued our own guidelines which all members are to follow in order to safeguard everyone’s health and safety.”
With a reshuffle in the committee and former association president Jose Borg stepping done due to personal reasons, the appointment of Nicole Borg – formerly the secretary-general – will inject a new approach to the new season.
A total of 220 players spread out within 11 senior league teams, four U-21 and two U-15 sides registered with the association will be part of the season. However, while the U-15 and U-21 were only introduced during the association’s Annual General Meeting on September 25, they explained that the occurrence of these leagues taking place will depend on the number of teams that have registered.
“We wanted to see more players taking part and more competition and because there is quite a difference in age between the U-17 and senior divisions, (with the U-21) they can play in different leagues with a more balanced level of competition,” Borg told the Times of Malta.
“In terms of the U-15s, we opened a league to give out resources and as much opportunity as we can.
“This way we can encourage more clubs to invest in youth and this will help us shift our focus to schools and other organisations and clubs for collaboration.”
The two main areas of investment for the association have been confirmed to be the National teams, and the association as a brand in itself.
As the national team has not played competitively since 2015, Malta is not currently represented in the world rankings. However, the association has insisted that competing again is one of their top priorities and have already expressed interest with Netball Europe for the Open, U-21 and U-17 categories. Added to that is an expression of interest for head coaches, assistant coaches and team managers for the national setup.
As for its branding, the association is said to have invested heavily in their communication channels through social media and a new website ‘to be more approachable and be closer to our clubs/teams’.
The issue of reach, one clearly visible in many of our local sports, is also on the association’s agenda as they will be looking to find ways to introduce the sport back into schools emphasizing that they will be doing their utmost to ensure the growth of the sport through youngsters and teenagers.
For more information, one can visit: www.maltanetball.com