The record crowd that attended the Women’s Football European Championships final at Wembley Stadium has undoubtedly reinforced the growing popularity of the sport, both internationally and locally.
This is the result of many small steps that have had a compelling cumulative effect.
During the pandemic, many women started to train for better physical and mental health. Grassroots football suddenly took off with training sessions for women of all ages.
Women footballers are also finally earning full-time salaries, and sponsors are now investing more money in the industry.
Aware of this golden opportunity to boost women’s football in Malta, the Mediterranean College of Sport is riding the wave and making the most of it.
“MCS has been in discussion with the Malta Football Association (MFA) about aligning their vision, strategy, and philosophy for youth development in local football,” said George Micallef, MCS’s Director of Sports Development, Strategy and Recruitment.
“In meetings with Pierre Brincat, MFA’s Director of Women’s Football, we discussed the growth of the sport and how MCS will offer opportunities for talented female footballers to develop their game alongside boys of their age.”
The MFA’s Women’s section already has a full structure in place covering elite-level football, club football, and a coaching set up. It has also made huge strides in promoting football among girls with programmes like UEFA Playmakers and the MFA Girls Academy.
For its part, MCS is set to give another push to young female footballers in fulfilling their potential.
Students at MCS will be able to continue their academic studies from Year 7 up to Sixth Form level while training and practicing the skills they will need to follow a career in sport.
Promising young female footballers – who will one day be Malta’s football stars – will be given the same preparation and opportunities as their male counterparts.
“Although we will welcome our first intake of students in September 2024, we have already met with several parents who have shown an interest in our school, and we will organise more group meetings with parents of prospective applicants later this year,” said Micallef.
MCS is also building a database of promising young female players, while monitoring these talents through scouting at club and national level.
“We are meeting youth academies to disseminate the vision of the school and explain how it will collaborate with clubs and the MFA to add value to the development of individual players, both now and in the future,” said MCS CEO Charlo Bonnici.
“I acknowledge that we live in a world where girls are often overlooked or not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
“MCS is dedicated to levelling the playing field in many ways. There is definitely an appetite for women’s football locally, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t one day have the same number of girls playing football as boys. Although we are not there yet, growth is very evident.”
That said, there is still much work to be done both on and off the pitch for the game to attract more female players, supporters and investors.
“Sports administrators should invest more money in women’s football to increase participation and give more quality teams access to good coaching and talent identification programmes,” explained Bonnici.
“In the meantime, we hope to support our female student-footballers to develop a growth mindset and a player-centred approach as they look towards making football their career.
“After all, they already have a star they can look up to in 18-year-old Haley Bugeja, who
is now playing for Florida’s Orlando Pride in the US National Women’s Soccer League after playing for Sassuolo in the Italian Serie A. The MCS aims to inspire more superstars to follow in her footsteps.”
For further information on the Mediterranean College of Sports, please send an email to [email protected].
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