As the women’s game continues to grow, it is starting to generate a lot more interest from several parties linked to the Beautiful Game.
These also include the professional people who make a living out of this game and who are starting to put the women’s game on equal foot with their male counterparts.
Michael Mangion, one of the new entries in the domestic women’s game, has brought a new energy to the movement and his experience as an outsider has helped him adapt quickly in this new environment.
Ahead of this season, Mangion was entrusted with the role of women’s team coach at Mġarr United – one of the usual title challengers in the local game.
It was a bold move from the Greens, hiring a coach who had spent his previous coaching career entirely in the men’s game.
Mangion, who is a UEFA B License coach, has vast experience in Maltese football having been a key figure at Lija Athletic. In fact, he won no less than six promotions with the club including two as assistant coach of the men’s senior team and three as U-19’s coach.
Mġarr’s decision is paying dividends as they share top spot with Birkirkara after eight Matchdays and have been one of the most exciting teams to watch on the field as well.
Mangion heaped praise on Mġarr’s environment that made him feel welcome from his first day.
“This experience is unbelievable, I am really pleased to form part of this club and the women’s game ingeneral,” Mangion told the Times of Malta.
“To be honest, I had to think about it before accepting Mġarr’s offer because I had always worked with boys and adult men.
For me, men and women’s football is the same but obviously there are some differences that I wanted to enquiry about before committing myself.”
Mangion pointed out that he had only positive feedback about working in the women’s game and he does not regret his decision.
“Obviously, there are some differences from the men’s game such as team management but other than that, I am working with a brilliant group and I am pleased to coach these talented girls,” he admitted.
In light of his own experience, although it is still in its early stages, Mangion insists that the female game deserves a lot more of attention from the local media because of the competitive football that is produced and to acknowledge the sacrifices that the players do on a daily basis.
“It’s very sad not to see a lot of media coverage about the women’s game, because they deserve it,” Mangion said.
“I really wish that the female players get more acknowledgement and it would be nice for them to see that their sacrifices and their football talents are being exposed in the right manner.”
Moreover, the Mġarr coach would like to see more coaches embarking in the women’s game because it can serve as a learning experience, especially in a level which he deems very competitive.
“I was overwhelmed with the competition that I found in the women’s league because there are some very good teams, starting from Birkirkara and Swieqi United who provide a tough title challenge,” Mangion explained.
“There is also Raiders Lija who are very organised and well-structured team. They are our next opponents and it’s going to be a very tough game for us.”
Meanwhile, Mġarr are looking to reinforce their midfield department to fill the vacuum left by the injured Amber Grech, who is ruled out for the rest of the season, and it seems that they are closing in on a foreign player who could help them in their title quest.
With seven games played, they are joint-top with 19 points and have the best defensive record with zero goals conceded so far.
Erasmus+ Sport Project
Meanwhile, Mġarr United Youth Nursery carried out an Erasmus+ Sport Programme throughout the calendar year of 2019 that has been selected for EU co-funding by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency.
This project has benefited from the co-financing support from the Ministry for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing, the then Parliamentary Secretariat for Sports, Recreation and Voluntary Organisations, and the Malta Council for Voluntary Sector.
The project, named Team Up for Sport – TU4S, was led by Mġarr United and had NK Maribor Tabor of Slovenia and Poland’s KS Legionovia as its associated partners.
Given the transnational nature of the issue of gender inequality within football, the partnering organisations implemented a project aimed at addressing an issue which is present and prevalent within each partnering organisation and corresponding member state.
As such, all three partnering organisations seeked to contribute to the Erasmus+ Sport priority of ‘encouraging social inclusion and equal opportunities through sport’ through this project, achieving key objectives.
These were intended to contribute to the increase of female athletes in football at grassroots level, to increase women football teams at grassroot level and to increase the female uptake in volunteering and careers in relation to sport.
THIS WEEK’S FIXTURES
TUESDAY – 20.30
Mġarr United vs Raiders Lija, Mġarr Ground.
Mtarfa vs Swieqi United, Dingli Ground (20.45).
WEDNESDAY – 20.30
Birkirkara vs Kirkop United, Mġarr Ground.
MD9: San Ġwann.