Malta will be making history at the end of the month as the beach soccer national team is set to compete at the European Beach Soccer League (EBSL) in Moldova from July 27.
Speaking to a press conference, Malta FA Beach Soccer Director Mark Marlow emphasized that the goal is to further promote the game.
“Our objectives are simple – to give more promotion to the game, not only the national team but also the youth sector which we are working hard on so that we can have continuity,” Marlow said.
“We are not looking only at the male sector, but we are also working expanding into the female side of the game, just as it is growing in other countries in Europe so that we too can eventually have our own women’s national team.”
While there has been previously a national team formed for the Mediterranean Beach games back in 2015, this will be the first time Malta will be competing in the an officially recognised European competition.
“Next week, thanks to the players who are committed and the clubs who are supporting us, we will be competing in the European Beach Soccer League (EBSL),” Marlow explained.
“This is the second time we will have a national team, but the first to ever compete in the EBSL. Our aim is to start by participating. I’m sure that coach Marco Casarsa is preparing our players in the best way to be prepared to face the teams we will be playing against.”
Malta will be part of the tournament’s Division B Group A, together with hosts – and top seed of the division – Moldova, Romania, and England.
Coach Casarsa, a former international player for the Italian national team, warned that the level in Europe is vastly different than that present in the Maltese league and so, a lot of work was needed in order to shape the team which includes mostly players who have not yet played beach soccer internationally.
“The tactics were new for the squad’s players but we have improved greatly so far,” Casarsa told the press conference.
“The level is already good, but we have to continue working on the technical and tactical sides. The players here don’t have experience in European international beach soccer, and beach soccer in Europe is quite different than it is here in Malta. I brought my experience here to demonstrate the differences present between playing here and playing internationally.
“We have still three days to work, we are ready and I am convinced that these players know the meaning of wearing the national team shirt. I am honoured to be here and I will give my all for Malta.
“The problem is the little experience that the players have. For this, we need to work on the tactical problems we can face which in Malta are not present. However, I want to make it clear that if we are strong together as a group, we can get past problems related to experience.”
‘I want to win’
Asked about his expectations, Casarsa told the Times of Malta that despite the difficulty, he will be going there with his team to win.
“Our expectations for the tournament are to play every game and try to be as close to the rest as we can – I want to win, not only participate. Whenever I play with my son, I want to win so I want to make my players understand that they need to go out there and win. The first game will be difficult – (Moldova) are at home and they are ranked higher, but I want to win nonetheless.
Malta FA vice-president Dr Matthew Paris lauded the Malta Beach Soccer Association’s efforts, explaining that while the game has been around for a while, it is a result of the drastic improvement over the past four years that there is finally a recognised national team.
“In the year 2020, we initiated a strategy and everything from then on has been a part of that – one of these developments was beach soccer and its national team,” Dr Paris said.
“Our ambition now is to try to host an international tournament here for the coming years. We hope to continue in this direction, particularly in our collaboration with the Malta Beach Soccer Association.”