The Malta Football Association’s plans to invest in new sports facilities and improve existing ones were presented to Dr Clifton Grima, the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisations during a meeting at the Centenary Hall yesterday.
Bjorn Vassallo, the Malta FA president, and Dr Grima discussed the positive collaboration between the government and the association to modernise football facilities in the country, including the replacement of the clubs’ artificial pitches.
“The Malta FA thanks Dr Grima and the Maltese government for their assistance,” Vassallo said. “The government recognises that football contributes a lot to the country, in sporting, social and also economic terms, and their support is essential for us to deliver our plan for the regeneration and upgrading of sports facilities in our country.”
The discussion was complemented by a presentation on the association’s infrastructural projects with Vassallo emphasising the importance of such investment for the governing body and also for the country to strengthen their sporting and social missions, especially at youth level, and to be able to boost sports tourism and host top-level international events.
Dr Grima, the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisations, said: “The government considers the Malta FA as a strategic partner for many reasons, primarily for the development of football in our country as well as the sporting and social aspects. There is also the economic aspect, and to put our country on the international map in the sports tourism sector we need top-quality and accessible facilities that meet the required standards.”
The Malta FA’s bid to host the UEFA Under-19 Championship Finals in 2024 represents an important target with the projects associated with this bid to be included in the Association’s new strategy document which will be launched in the coming weeks. If the Malta FA secures the right to host this top event, it is estimated that this will generate over 5,000 bed nights, hence increasing sports tourism and the associated benefits for the country’s economy.
The country has already experienced these positive developments when the Malta FA hosted the UEFA Under-17 Championship Finals in 2014.
New technical centre
A key project is the construction of a new Technical Centre in the Ta’ Qali Training Grounds which will incorporate a Category 1 stadium to comply with UEFA’s requirements for the hosting of the UEFA U-19 tournament, thus adding a fourth natural turf pitch in the country, the others being the National Stadium, the Hibernians Stadium and Gozo Stadium.
This state-of-the art facility would also serve as a base for all the national team selections, additionally offering better facilities to attract elite sports tourism and football training camps in the future. The planned investment also includes the renovation of three natural turf pitches within the same complex, and other infrastructural and extraordinary maintenance works at the National Stadium.
This ongoing investment has already seen the completion of other important projects, including the installation of a FIFA Quality-Pro pitch and renovation works at the Centenary Stadium, embellishment of corporate facilities and the Maltese football museum in the Millennium Stand which will be inaugurated next month.
The Malta FA also has plans to build a second stand at the Centenary Stadium to upgrade the category of this venue and increase its capacity. These projects are also intended to complement the targets and objectives of the Inħobb il-Futbol Foundation which will be based on the following pillars – a schools programme, greater accessibility to football and a talent optimisation strategy, an enhanced pathway from grassroots to elite football (development), and coach education.