The Malta Football Association’s launching of a strategic plan for the next four years is a huge boost to the game in this country.

Too many years have gone by without a clear roadmap on where our favourite sport – the Beautiful Game – will be heading to in future.

Malta FA president Bjorn Vassallo has been working hard on this aspect ever since he was elected to the office in summer of 2019 and now there are a set of objectives in place for the governing body to fulfil over the next few years.

Four key areas were singled out for development: infrastructural expansion, growth and sustainability of clubs, broadening the exposure and commercial value of the association and its competitions as well as improving good governance by strengthening the compliance and integrity aspects.

The infrastructure development is one particular sector that needs to be addressed thoroughly despite the fact that the association, under the previous administration of Norman Darmanin Demajo, had invested thousands of euros to ensure clubs had adequate facilities to conduct their programmes.

Some facilities are in a dire need of renovation to provide a more suitable and ideal set-up not only for the players and coaching staff but, more importantly, for spectators.

In his election manifesto, Vassallo had announced plans to restructure the National Stadium into a 10,000-capacity venue that will draw the fans closer to the action on the pitch. The project is crucial to attracting more people to the game and create that electric atmosphere so missing from our domestic competitions even before the virus pandemic struck last year.

The setting up of the Inħobb il-Futbol Foundation could be another way to push the local game to higher levels. The foundation will guarantee a long-term development strategy that will boost the grassroots of football and ensure that young talent is not lost but instead given the proper build-up to develop into future national team players.

A vital component in the strategy proposed is good governance, not only in the association itself but in all its member clubs and affiliates.

In recent years, there have been too many examples of clubs that had their reputations tarnished by irresponsible administrators who placed their personal interests ahead of those of the club. At times, such deplorable actions even placed the existence of the club in serious danger.

Another step in the right direction is Malta FA’s plans to implement a strong licensing system, which will see clubs needing to put their house in order first before attaining certification to compete at professional, semi-professional or amateur status. Hopefully, this will eradicate mismanagement in our clubs once and for all.

Raising the commercial value of the association and its competitions could enrich the governing body and clubs’ coffers significantly and by no small margin.

Such revenue could be invested in the game itself, putting clubs on a platform to further strengthen their own grassroots and ensure a sound future for themselves.

There have been signs of improvement in the national teams ‒ men’s and women’s ‒ over the last few months, which, no doubt, is a massive shot in the arm for the entire football family in our country.

However, now it is time for the Malta FA to step up its efforts and to ensure that its clubs are provided with the necessary tools to help the game flourish and also for the national teams to become more competitive on the international scene.

The latest Malta FA strategy is the perfect way to start implementing all this.

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