Events target participants in U-7, U-9 and U-11 age-groups
Over 170 children gathered at the Siġġiewi FC and Żabbar St Patrick FC football grounds last weekend to take part in the Football Festivals hosted by the two youth nurseries in collaboration with the Youth Football Association as part of the Enjoying The Game campaign.
The atmosphere at the festivals was in keeping with the Football Live It With Love! slogan as the enthusiasm of the young participants and their passion for the game ensured an enjoyable experience for all involved.
A total of seven nurseries took part in the three festivals hosted by the Siġġiewi FC Youth Nursery on the weekend of April 9 and 10.
Teams from the youth nurseries of Siġġiewi, Mġarr United, Żurrieq Wolves, and Rabat Ajax participated in the Under-9 festival, held on Saturday.
Kirkop United joined the hosts, Mġarr United and Rabat Ajax for the Under-7 festival while teams from Siġġiewi, Birkirkara, Qormi and Rabat Ajax took part in the Under-11 festival, both held on Sunday.
The Under-7 Football Festival organised by the Żabbar St Patrick Youth Nursery last Sunday featured the participation of four youth nurseries, namely the hosts, Marsaxlokk, San Ġwann, and Żejtun Corinthians.
Before last weekend’s events, another U-8 festival was organised by the Qormi FC Youth Nursery in December with the Under-8 teams of Sliema Wanderers, San Ġwann, Żebbuġ Rangers and Qormi taking part.
Stephanie Rocco, general secretary of the Youth FA, said: “It was great to see all those children doing what they love to do most in a fun and safe environment. We are very pleased that, together with the youth nurseries, we were finally able to kickstart the festivals programme following the difficulties and restrictions caused by COVID-19.
“These events provide an opportunity for these kids to enjoy themselves without pressure to obtain results while fostering collaboration between youth nurseries. We certainly look forward to organising similar events on a wider scale, targeting as many young players as possible, while promoting the Football, Live It With Love spirit.”
The Youth FA provides logistical assistance to the host nurseries in terms of personnel, first aid assistants, equipment and media support besides playing an active role in the planning of these events.
All festivals are held in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Grassroots Festival Manual issued by the Technical Centre of the Malta Football Association, prioritising fun and giving all the players on the teamsheet the opportunity to play.
These principles are also captured in the Youth FA’s Football, Live It With Love! motto, the phrase coined by Honorary President Fr Hilary Tagliaferro to reflect the essence of the Beautiful Game.
Coaches on wheels
In addition to the Football Festivals, the Youth FA is also co-ordinating the Coaches On Wheels project which was launched earlier this season.
In sync with the association’s vision to provide more opportunities for young children to enjoy football, Coaches On Wheels merges the footballing and social aspects through fun-filled training sessions for boys and girls, aged five to 10.
The sessions, free of charge, target children in areas where these age-groups are not catered for by nurseries due to various constraints.
At present, Coaches On Wheels sessions are being held every Saturday at two venues – the Għarb FC Ground for children based in Gozo and De La Salle College in Vittoriosa for children in the Cottonera area.