Only four months ago, the Malta Football Association elected its top officials and, still, the largest sports organisation on the island is again passing through a phase of renewal.

The changes have been forced onto the MFA after two officials – vice president Chris Bonnet and secretary general Bjorn Vassallo – accepted prestigious international posts with Uefa and Fifa respectively.The job offers made to Dr Bonett and Mr Vassallo are testament to the unstinting work the two men put in over the past few years to help up the administrative aspect of the domestic game.

Dr Bonett, a lawyer who has specialised in sport law, is now compliance officer of the European football association and Mr Vassallo will form part of the office of Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

The wealth of experience the two gentlemen will gain through their new postings will, hopefully, reap dividends for the domestic game in the future if they decide to return. One sincerely hopes they do.

In the meantime, the MFA has to perform its own soul-searching exercise to ensure football standards in Malta continue to improve at a club and national level. Football administrators have often fallen into the trap of being insular, oblivious of what the casual football fan may think about the game and sometimes adopting an antagonistic approach towards a probing media.

At a time when the football world is rocked by match fixing scandals, not least in Malta, it helps having officials who are not only passionate about the game but who are also respected, upright and can understand the importance of good communication.

Within this context, MFA president Norman Darmanin Demajo’s decision to approach lawyer Angelo Chetcuti and encourage him to serve as secretary general instead of Mr Vassallo appears to be a good move.

Dr Chetcuti was approved unanimously by the MFA council – the position is not an elective post – a sign of the respect the 36-year-old former vice president of Birżebbuġa St Peters enjoys.

Dr Chetcuti joins the MFA after serving for several years within EU institutions. His last posting was with the European Parliament office in Malta.

It could not have been an easy decision for him to leave behind a good job with an EU institution to join the MFA. But the man is passionate about the game. Last July, he failed to make it as one of the MFA’s three vice presidents in the election, ending up in fourth place. It is good that his drive and attitude towards the game were co-opted by the MFA president through this new posting.

Dr Chetcuti will provide a measure of continuity but also a fresh pair of eyes, which can only benefit the MFA as it regenerates. He is a person of integrity, level-headed, knowledgeable about the game and media-savvy, an important ingredient for an organisation like the MFA. The focus will now turn tothe extraordinary election that willtake place in December to choose Dr Bonett’s replacement.

The names of various possible contenders have been floated. One hopes that club members will eventually select someone who can inject value-added into the organisation.

The MFA has a lot more work to do to ensure the domestic game improves. It can start with a targeted focus to help clubs invest in quality coaches at nursery level by part-financing salaries.

But possibly the biggest and mostdifficult job is restoring trust in the game by going into a head-on battle against corruption.

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