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Futsal development in Malta

This year, the Futsal Malta Association (FMA) is celebrating its tenth year anniversary since its founding back in 2011.

While the concept of futsal can be traced back to 1930 in Uruguay, futsal in Malta only started to be developed as a sport in the early years of the third millennium.

Over the past ten years, futsal in Malta has continued to flourish and gain in popularity, with more athletes being attracted to try such sport and more fans engaged in following their favourite team/player.

With the forming of the FMA in 2011, the organisation of domestic futsal competitions in Malta was taken over by the governing body.

Many of the teams back then were composed of friends or work colleagues rather than the traditional village or town associated teams who competed in a league spread across various divisions.

The FMA always strived to ensure that futsal continued to be developed in Malta.

As a result, the FMA altered their playing regulations whereby any team that wished to compete in the futsal league had to be affiliated to a mother club which was registered with the Malta Football Association.

Unfortunately, this saw a reduction in the number of participating teams, however, at the same time, those teams that remained became more organised and more competitive.

As a result of this, the quality of play offered by the teams increased from season to season, not least thanks to the numerous foreigners who plied their trade with such teams and brought with them a wealth of playing experience that was shared with their team-mates.

Futsal has also started to be introduced in some academies of Maltese football clubs.

Foreign studies show that introducing young and upcoming footballers to futsal increases their technical skills. Some futsal clubs have also gone a step further by fielding youth teams in the domestic futsal competition, giving youngsters the opportunity to gain invaluable playing experience.

However, without any form of support schemes or funding made available to teams who develop young and upcoming futsal stars, teams struggle to enhance their youth team development further and many simply do not see it being worth the time and effort.

There is a need for the authorities to offer incentives and schemes, such as monetary grants, to those teams who develop a youth team and offer playing time to youth futsal players. 

The ultimate goal of any competing team is to have the exclusive honour of being the Maltese futsal representative in the UEFA Futsal Champions League.

Over the past years, Malta has seen its representative teams achieve highly respectable results, mostly notably Luxol and Valletta who both managed to reach the main round (last 32) stage.

The admirable results obtained by Maltese futsal teams in the UEFA Champions League has led to the coefficient of the Maltese futsal team increase over the years, giving the representing team a better chance of advancing further in the competition.

Malta also had the honour of being the host nation for UEFA futsal champions league group matches in previous years.

Major obstacles

Unfortunately one of the major obstacles that to date prevents futsal from being developed further is the lack of facilities made available to the FMA.

Presently the FMA does not directly own any futsal facility despite repeated promises that it will be given a dedicated premise.

As a result, the FMA is left with no further option but to rent futsal stadia from third parties which comes at a significant cost to the association who in turn relies on the fees paid by its member clubs and sponsor income in order to cover such rental costs. 

Through the FMA, the Malta national futsal team has been developed whereby Maltese futsal players are given the opportunity to compete against fellow national futsal teams and players on the international stage.

Unfortunately to date, Malta has not yet managed to qualify for either the UEFA Futsal Championship or the FIFA Futsal World Cup, unlike the success that has been obtained in recent years by the local representative futsal team competing in the UEFA futsal champions league.

Although recent results obtained in friendly matches, as well as training camps, are encouraging, more resources and investment needs to be injected into the national futsal team in order for the side to be more competitive on the international scene.

The FMA is continuing to solidify its foundations for years ahead with the hope of attracting more players to the game, more competing teams to play, more followers of futsal and to see the Maltese national team continue to achieve greater results in international futsal competitions.

With the right personnel, investment, resources, incentives and mindset futsal in Malta can continue to flourish.

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