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Watch: Give youngsters a chance, Mangia tells Maltese clubs

Change in mentality needed, says Fr Hilary Tagliaferro

Malta national coach Devis Mangia is encouraging Maltese clubs to be braver and give more opportunities to young players which would guarantee them a more solid future.

Mangia was speaking alongside Fr Hilary Tagliaferro during the latest edition of Sports Talk which discussed the results of the national team and football development in Malta.

Watch this week’s episode of Sports Talk. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

The national teams head coach said that when he took the role in January last year one of the main objectives was to lower the average age of the national team players.

“When I accepted the job I didn’t look much at the age of the players but whether a player is able to play for the national, whether he is 30-years-old or 17,” Mangia said.

“It is clear that when we started the project, one of our targets was to consider the average age of the national team, and we felt that a renovation was necessary and I didn’t have a problem to put in a player born in 1998, 1999 or 2001. I feel that in this way I sent a message that there are some talented players here in Malta.

“In my opinion, clubs need to put more attention in their nurseries and give some possibilities to young players born in 2000, 2001 and maybe even 2003 in the first team. If they do well then you would have discovered a new talent if not you can put others in.

“It’s clear that being the national team I would prefer to see more young Maltese players playing, but at the same time I have no problem if clubs play very good foreign players. But sometimes maybe, I don’t know if courage is the right word, we should try and look ahead to the future and give a chance to young players.”

On his part, Fr Hilary Tagliaferro said the he feels that the national team player and coach is facing a difficult task as our children are at a disadvantage as they start early enough to love sport and practice sport and he emphasised the importance that there needs to be a change in mentality.

“Although it seems that things are improving, I don’t yet believe that we arrived to the mentality that sport is as important for our students as maths, english, science, religion and whatever it is,” Fr  Tagliaferro said.

“Sport is still considered as if you have time ok go and play, the teacher will just organise a football match and enjoy it but that is not enough. We don’t have the mentality to love sport and practise so the co-ordination they need, the body movement and the skills of football have not yet been introduced early enough.

“So when they arrive at the age of 16, they are already formed, coordination for running and going for the ball is not there.

“So this is a big task for the national coaches to correct. So the main obstacle for sport in general, change the mentality and give sport its due in kindergarden, primary schools, secondary schools and university and be part of their curriculum. That will correct a major handicap that we have to prepare our future players.”

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