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Malta FA ask authorities to lower age restriction on contact sport

The Malta Football Association has asked the authorities to consider lowering the maximum age of the restriction on contact sport from 17 to 16 as this would significantly reduce the difficulties at youth level, not just for football, without compromising the rationale behind this measure.

Last week, the government and the Public Health announed that contact sport for U-17 athletes was banned until April 11.

During a news conference Prime Minister Robert Abela said that contact sport will only be permitted for senior athletes provided they continue to follow the medical protocol published by SportMalta.

“In light of the measures prohibiting contact sport for persons aged under 17, as stipulated by the Legal Notice issued on  March 5, 2021, the Malta Football Association has evaluated how the non-availability of players in this age-group impacts the 2020/21 National Youth League.

“This assessment has shown that these restrictions affect clubs in different ways but, under any circumstances, it’s imperative that the integrity and sustainability of the competitions are safeguarded.

“Following an internal analysis of the risks of COVID-19 spread in this category and the measures issued by the Public Health Authorities, the Malta FA has decided to postpone all Youth League fixtures until the end of March.

“Clubs are facing major issues in the Youth League as around 15 per cent of the players taking part in this competition are aged 16 (born 2004). With the already limited numbers further depleted by COVID-19 issues, clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to cope while these problems also threaten the integrity and sustainability of the competition.

“In the circumstances, the Malta FA has asked the authorities to consider lowering the maximum age of the restriction on contact sport from 17 to 16 as this would significantly reduce the difficulties at youth level, not just for football, without compromising the rationale behind this measure.

“Furthermore, the Association strongly urges the Authorities to consider granting the necessary exemptions to players joining the national teams for commitments taking place between now and 11th April, 2021.”

The Malta FA said that it is fully aware of the current COVID-19 situation in the country and the issues faced by the Authorities with public health being the foremost priority.

“However, during difficult times like these, sport is very important for the health and mental well-being of the society.

“Such restrictions are impeding youngsters from practising sport outdoors. It is also to be noted that this prohibition impacts a number of age-groups in the youth set-ups and also has a disruptive effect on the national team commitments.”

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