The Malta Football Association (MFA)’s Football Social Responsibility (FSR) department will be enacting its latest inclusivity project this year called PaSS – Actioning Social Sports, FSR director Peter Busuttil told a press conference on Friday.
This project is one of 11 taken on by the department with funding from the
European Union, UEFA and FIFA and involves creating 13 different hubs, according to local districts, which will serve as community centres for
“PaSS is a new project which will go on for the next two years. It was supposed to begin at the start of 2021 but will start now due to COVID-19 restrictions,” Busuttil said.
“The first step in the project is to identify which clubs will become the districts’ hubs, not necessarily Premier League clubs. Then as we do in every project, we will include other clubs in the vicinity. These either apply or get approached and with the funds we have to help people, we can also help the local clubs – a very important part of the project.”
Busuttil said that once these hubs are identified, the aim is to attract locals with the help of football not only to become players but to become involved in football-related activities.
“The MFA has different departments to help with professional players. We are in the business of family and community football – we encourage families and particularly women to participate in football-connected activities so that they can integrate with the community,” Busuttil explained.
The project, with funds up to around 250,000 euros, is still in its early stages but Busuttil believes it should be a success.
“We haven’t identified the locations so far but from our past experience, we have always found a lot of cooperation because when they come to us, we are always ready to help,” Busuttil told the Times of Malta.
“Even though they are refugee projects, they are projects of inclusivity – we can’t help ‘A’ or ‘B’, we need to help ‘V’ – the vulnerable. So yes, I’m pretty confident that we will have a good response for the project based on the three or four years of doing these projects.”
While PaSS is set to begin, the previous project ‘Play Football, Live Football’ is currently bearing its fruits. The MEUSAC and SEM aided project consisted in the creation of five different football teams across local amateur leagues.
“With the help of MEUSAC and SEM for EU funds, we created five teams through work with various agencies and NGOs which are taking part in MAFA, Swan, MESA and other leagues like the beach soccer league and private futsal leagues. The teams have their own structure and we aid them financially,” Busuttil said.
Another part of all this is what Busuttil called the ‘literacy toolkit’ – a manual in six languages based upon the languages that the refugees speak.
“The manual consists completely of football jargon because when we go to coach and speak to the refugees, most often we need translators. However, we want to go beyond that.”