Vella to coach Under-21 selection
Backs Swieqi players Mariella Baldacchino and Tamara Vella have been appointed as the new coaches of the Malta National Open team and the Under-21 selection respectively.
Baldacchino and Vella will be the first coaches under the new administration as they seek to reintroduce Malta into the world rankings.
Such an objective means Baldacchino, assisted by Helga Turban, will have a tough job on her hands to guide the national team, managed by Antoinette Corby into its first ventures back into the game.
Vella will be joined by Nadya Turban who coaches the team’s Silverbacks.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Malta Netball Association president Nicole Borg expressed her determination to push the sport’s national team.
“Finding coaches and boosting the national team was the committee’s number one priority,” Borg said.
“We want to see netball mentioned with the other sports in Malta and we’ve already seen that we have many good players but who are not competing in international games where everyone knows that international competition is a huge learning curve.
“Representing your country is also a big honour so we want Malta to be talked about on an international scale, giving netball more importance.”
Asked about the choice of coaches, Borg explained that decision was taken after an expression of interest in September.
“As a committee we appreciate and admire the dedication shown by certain individuals for this sport because without them, it will surely suffer.
“Then again, the association has been and will be open to all, and I want to make sure all players and teams get equal opportunities,” Borg said.
The national team was part of the new committee’s agenda during their Annual General Meeting back in September and Borg said they will be working towards getting ranked again in order to have more opportunities such as the Commonwealth games.
“Being ranked, we can bring local netball to it’s glory. Netball was very popular before and we want to get players involved in the sport again,” Borg said.
She added that plans for the national team start next May as they plan on entering the Open team into the Netball Europe Open Challenge, and the U21 tournament in October.
National team set-up
“Obviously we need to keep on investing in the teams long-term and not for these tournaments only.
“As an association, we must work on keeping these teams together rather than letting them dismantle themselves like what happened in 2016.
Eventually we can bring back the U-17s but we’ve placed our focus on the Open and U21 now.”
The national setups will benefit from a mentor to the coaches – Judi Buhagiar. Australian Buhagiar, who has ties to Malta through family, comes from the Netball Victoria Association and Borg believes she will be of ‘great value’ to the teams and coaches.
“(Buhagiar) has great experience and will bring that and her knowledge to our game, in areas where we might have been limited and the coaches not exposed much to,” Borg said.
“She will be mentoring the coaches, where they’ll be having regular meetings with her and even sharing video footage in order to get her feedback.”