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‘Raiders, Valletta FC merger will bring benefits to women’s game’ – Guerra

Raiders women’s team are set to embark on a new chapter in their 27th year after confirming their merge with one of the most historic clubs in Maltese football, Valletta.

The Citizens are set to make their competitive debut in the women’s game after launching a girls’ nursery last season, which so far comprises 30 players.

In the past two seasons, Raiders were based at Lija Athletics, with the club making significant progress in both youth and senior categories.

In fact, they brought home an U-21 domestic cup, and finished twice joint-top with Birkirkara in the U-21 league while securing positive results against the big teams in the senior category.

“After two years, we decided to sit down with Lija Athletic to discuss the way forward and we realised that we had different point of views hence why we opted to move forward on separate ways,” Denis Guerra, Raiders’ technical director and coach, explained to the Times of Malta.

Guerra will remain at the helm of the senior team with the new Valletta team set to participate in the newly reformed U-19 and U-16 leagues as well. They will also take part in the Grassroot Festivals which are organised for the U-13 selections.

Joining Guerra to supervise the women’s football project at Valletta, especially at youth level, is coach Julian Buhagiar who last year oversaw the girls’ nursery at the Citizens.

“After our decision to separate ourselves from Lija Athletic, there were around seven clubs that were interested in merging with us,” Guerra said.

“We had some meetings where we made sure to highlight our demands and take a successful next step for the growth of this club.

“At the end of the day, we decided to opt for Valletta because their option gave us more guarantees, stability and after all they are a traditional club with a well-known name that is also recognised internationally.”

Guerra also lauded Valletta’s efforts to step into the women’s game as he is sure that their introduction will bring a lot of benefits to this movement.

Asked about how will strengthen their squad following this announcement, Guerra said that they are looking to add some experienced players while keeping an eye on potential foreign arrivals.

However, nurturing youth players will remain part of their DNA and that is why they will be still participating in the youth competitions.

“We grew up a lot in the last three seasons where we enjoyed positive campaigns at U-21 level while starting to become more competitive in the senior game,” Guerra pointed out.

Guerra is aware that winning immediately at senior level is easier than done, but he remains upbeat about the improvement they can make next season.

“Our young players have added another year of experience so that is very important,” he said.

“At the same time, the experience we have at youth level will help the girls that are already at Valletta which will help us lay a solid ground for future success.”

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