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Women’s Knockout draws announced as MBA launch grassroots project

ARMS Depiro will face Starlites Naxxar in the first game of this years Knockout. Photo: Wally Galea

The Malta Basketball Association (MBA) drew up this season’s MAPFRE MSV Life Women knock-out pairings on Tuesday.

In a press conference at the Ta’ Qali pavilion, MBA president Paul Sultana said he believes that this year’s competition will be strong and balanced once the four teams, currently having a number of injuries, are back to their top shape.

The MBA chief explained that this year’s semi-finals would take place on December 7, while the final is penciled in for March 31.

Sultana was enthusiastic about the competition and explained that interest levels across the sport have risen to the extent that youths are more willing to play the game, particularly at the new pavilion which is said to be able to house at least 1,300 spectators.

“The interest has increased so much that we have mini-basket tournaments during the weekend which are packed with children,” he said, “this fills us with the courage to continue working like this.”

Following the draws, Sultana launched the association’s new grassroots project which looks to inspire players to develop a professional attitude from a young age.

Through the use of coach Claudio Massari – a coach who is also part of the national sports school – youth players have the chance to train early in the morning before school hours – an opportunity which inspires a hardworking attitude needed for a player to grow both as an athlete and as a disciplined human being.

Sultana said the new scheme, which has just been introduced, already involves a group of 13 boys and girls, who are training at a time as early as 5:45am three times a week.

“It’s difficult for the children because it’s early, however, this happens in other sports as well and so, I don’t see why not,” Sultana remarked.

Asked about the ­issue involving lack of referees, which was present during the last round of games across the Maltese league, Sultana told the Times of Malta that this is a problem that needs to be resolved.

“We have a group of young referees who are able to do it, but unfortunately they are also players,” Sultana said.

“We’ve had a problem with this, but we can sometimes make do with two referees instead of three, whereas in important games that is a requisite and we make sure we have that in order.

“The issue is that it takes years to fully train a referee. We’ve had schemes in the past where every boy and girl in the Under-16s was given referee training as well, but we did not always enforce that. Maybe it is time to start doing it again because it is a problem that needs facing.”

MAPRE MSV Life representative Michael Galea expressed his satisfaction in supporting the association and its competitions, especially due to the series of improvements carried out within the facilities.

“I believe it is a sign of the hardworking people there are here, who work for the betterment of the sport in this country in order to increase the level and give opportunities to youths and the general public,” he said.

KO DRAWS

SEMI-FINALS – December 7
Starlites Naxxar vs Arms Depiro
Hibernians vs Café MOAK Luxol

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